Fears usually indicate areas of injury to ourselves and or others. Fearfulness can be often a free-floating awareness that accompanies the realization that everything seems to be going too well.
Fears basically tell us what is very important to us. Our bodies and lives, our families and relationships, our possessions, all can be so important to us and our fears can at times cloud our experiences of them. This week, as we pray toward the celebration of the central prayer of the Church, it might be helpful to check the “fear-list” and pray with what important gift in our lives is surrounded with fear-folds. Those fears might linger and not vanish like clouds, but the reception of the true nature of those persons and possessions which bring about fears, might put warmth into our prayer and the Eucharist.
The study of history lends itself to a process known as “revision” or interpretation in the light of new research. Revision can put a better or less better light on past events.
Our First Reading today is a continuation of the final chapters of the Book of Wisdom in which God’s creation and care of Israel as God’s Holy People is celebrated. God and the people of Israel all look very good and Egypt, the “slave holders” are justly punished and are celebrated as those having no light at all.
The Reading opens with a reflective statement that the very night of the Passover had been promised by God to Abraham long before and the leaders trusted. The reflection continues glorifying God Who had given them the Law and instructions on just how they were to live during the suffering times. They kept these traditions and observed the rituals. The people are glorified as well as the “summoned” who trusted and by this were given freedom from their adversaries. In short, God has been very good to Israel and the Israelites were very good in their own right by being faithful to promises made.
Last weeks’ Gospel had a little parable about a man whose barn was so full that he had no room for God’s fullness. In Luke’s Gospel the ten verses after that contain the famous passage of The Lilies of the Field and how we should not be afraid, because we are very more valued by God than the beautiful flowers or the birds of the sky.
What we have in today’s Gospel continues the theme begun last week and which runs through the ten verses omitted from this reading.
We have a long Gospel with various pictures of servants of whom Jesus is one as well. The leaders of Israel were known as servants of the Lord who protected the holiness of the people by urging execution of the traditions and customs. Jesus is speaking to and about them in these verses as well as the disciples to whom God is giving the “kingdom”.
To those servants who wait patiently for the “master’s” return are those who faithfully live the teachings of Jesus concerning such things as the freedom from greed and possessiveness. The “Master” upon His return will become the Servant of the servants. They will recline at table and be served. Jesus will return to this very theme in Luke 22, 24.
I would imagine that we blinked or flinched when hearing all about the beating various servants would receive. This does not sound like words or images reflecting a “Servant” who tends to the needs of others. The servant, who beats his companions, because the master is delayed, gets his just reward. The servant, who knew his master’s will, but did nothing about it, gets the lash as well. Ignorance apparently is not a total excuse, and so a slight beating will be given them if they acted in similar ways to the others. In which group do you find yourself? We are told not to fear and then we hear about beatings!
Jesus is speaking to the disciples and they have been given much of Jesus’ teaching and the much that will be expected is to be lived as being servants of those teachings. Fidelity to the teachings is what the Jewish leaders were called to and Jesus is asking the same of His disciples. Beatings are a part of the parable guaranteed to get the attention of all. Listening and putting what is heard into actions is a most severe requirement of being a true servant.
Well, as for me, I would rather hear about how valuable I am compared to the beautiful flowers and fluttering birds. I’d like to hear about my not being afraid, because I am loved so much as to already have received the kingdom. I do like the part of having been “entrusted” with much, but this much’s being even more “demanded”; that sounds severe right there.
This is a dangerous reading for all who are guilt-tilting anyway. What is the “more” which will be demanded? How will we know how we are doing? Where is the scoreboard or spiritual thermometer? As for me, I will let Jesus be the Servant, the Savior, the Master, and the One who does the inviting. I am ending this Reflection knowing full well that I have not done enough, or all I could, or even what you, the reader, would expect. As someone once said when asked what do Catholics do, “Catholics try.” This trying is our being faithful; our imperfections are also a praise of the Master and a plea to the Servant.
“Be true to your covenant; forget not the life of your poor ones for ever.” Ps. 74, 20
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