... You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. -- 1 Thessalonians 4:9
... So out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. -- Matthew 25:25
In my days as a wire service reporter, I sometimes disdained colleagues who seemed to want to be "spoon-fed." They seemed unwilling to spend the time and energy it would take to root out information they needed, and they complained that a source or two didn¹t tell them everything.
In today¹s first reading, Paul refuses to spoon-feed the Thessalonians. You know what it means to love one another, he says. God himself has taught you, he says.
Sometimes I pretend not to know what God has planted in my heart. I see someone in need or pain, and I know in my heart what to do: Find some way to help. Even if all that means is taking time for a kind word or an offer of assistance. But that means I go out of my way. And with a hundred other things that demand my time and attention, how easy it becomes to ignore the promptings of my heart, the promptings of God, the promptings of love.
Still, I have been taught by God to love. I know that. I feel it deeply. I intuitively know the truth of what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.
So if I know that truth, does it mean anything in my life? Does it make a difference?
It means that if I have been given certain capacities, certain abilities, then being faithful to God demands that I use what I have been given to build up the Kingdom of God. It does not matter how little I might have. I might be a klutz, a slow learner, a thick-headed plodder. It does not matter. There are no excuses. I have something -- something -- to offer.
The challenge is to find out what that something might be.
What prevents me from finding it?
Today¹s reading from Matthew gives me a clue. Fear prevents me from discovering how I might help build the Kingdom. In the Matthew story, the unproductive servant, out of fear, buried what he had been given instead of putting it to good use.
The servant feared his master¹s anger. The tragedy of his story is that the very action he takes to avoid the anger leads him straight into the eye of the storm.
What do I fear? Being distracted from my comfortable routines by discovering that I could do something to help those around me who suffer or are in need? Do I fear simply having to exert myself? Or do I fear the consequences of discovering that I am not nearly so helpless and lacking in gifts as I would like to believe?
And why would I fear those things? For one thing, it means an end to self-indulgence. Letting go of fear brings me face-to-face with responsibility.
The master has entrusted me with much. Even if I am weary or afraid, unmotivated, uncertain of success or failure, I am responsible to find ways by which my family, friends, colleagues, those in pain, those in need, those lost in fear, might profit by what I have to offer. And I must accept that I may profit by what others have to offer.
I don¹t need spoon-feeding on this point: This is how God has taught me to love.