Daily Reflection
November 22nd, 2006

Daniel Patrick O'Reilly

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Memorial of Saint Ceilia
Revelation 4:1-11
Psalms 150:1-6
Luke 19:11-38

Today’s scripture readings are, shall we say, challenging? In Revelation, John’s vision of heaven is beautiful. The images are rich and humbling. The twenty-four elders fall down and worship and throw down their crowns before the throne. The psalmist continues the theme of praise with all sorts of musical instruments. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. And then we come to Luke. The parable of the ten gold coins. Wow! One of those stories you’d like to just skip. The story seems so incredibly harsh.

I used to have this idea that the Old Testament was the nasty part of the Bible and the New Testament was the happy part of the Bible. In the Old Testament, God was always angry and smiting this person or punishing that nation. The New Testament was all love and happiness. In reality, this is not true. God displays his love for us throughout the Bible. And judgment is found in the New Testament, too.

In Luke, Jesus tells the story of a nobleman who leaves on a journey to become king. He leaves ten gold coins with ten servants with instructions to engage in trade. The nobleman’s countrymen despise him and plot to thwart his kingship. When the nobleman returns as king, some servants are rewarded for their stewardship, but one servant is condemned for his lack of stewardship. The coin the king gave the servant is taken from him and given to another. The king says that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And with that statement the king calls for those who did not want him to be king to be slain before him.

This is a hard reading. Possibly it is hard because I do not discern or understand completely what it means or what Jesus wants me to see. I have horrible eye sight and have worn glasses seemingly my whole life. I went to the eye doctor recently. He put a machine up to my face and then would place different lenses in the machine. He would ask, now which is clearer, number one or number two? Sometimes it was easy to tell which lens made me see worse or better. Other times I simply had to tell him I could not see any difference.

Perhaps I simply do not want to hear what Jesus is saying. My oldest son is an atheist and his salvations and what will become of him on judgment day weighs heavy on my heart.

When Jesus returns, I want him to say to me, Well done, good servant. But sometimes I wonder. What kind of a servant am I? Am I pleasing God? Am I doing God’s will? Someone once said that there will be three surprises when we get to heaven. Some people we expected to see won’t be there. People who went to church, helped their fellow man, but had no relationship with Christ. Some we wonder how the heck they got there. People who never got past their porch and yell at the neighbors, but they knew who Jesus was. And what a glorious gift it will be just to be there. To know that I was pleasing to God. To see what John describes in Revelation. To fall down and worship Christ. It will be an amazing day. My prayer today is for discernment and understanding and a soft, open heart for those of us who sometimes struggle with scripture that seems hard.

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