Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 12, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 25:23-30

"His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” Last came forward the man who had the single talent. “Sir,” said he, “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you had not sown and gathering where you had not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have got my money back with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he has. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”


The end is harsh. Are you so harsh as this, Jesus? Is the judgment of human souls as unyielding and unremitting as this?

It contradicts my every image of your mercy. And, yes, I know that is what your parables are wont to do. But it is you who again and again have revealed to this soul your abiding hunger to bring all into your happiness.

You have revealed the immensity of your joy as you stand at the door and welcome all to share in the goodness that has neither beginning nor end, no source but your own divine heart.

How can such mercy and this harshness co-exist? The poor man merely did what fear dictated he must do to protect himself from the master’s hardness. There have been times when I did much the same, guarding myself from the hard judgment of one I feared. This happens in millions of homes and work places every day.

The poor servant ended up not in your happiness but in the outer darkness where the light of your mercy is not known. And this is what I most fear.

It seems that if fear dictates our action, we wind up in the place we flee. We lose what we sought to protect. We land in the darkness instead of the light of your face.

So what shall I do?

“Live,” you say in clearest whisper. “Live. Give yourself to me. Forget your reserve. Hold nothing back.

“There is nothing to fear, except losing me. Throw you heart into the fullness of love’s labor, and you will enter my happiness.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 25:19-23

"Now a long time afterwards, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. "Sir," he said, "you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness." Next the man with the two talents came forward. "Sir," he said, "you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness."


I wonder, Lord, what would have happened had they used their talents to make more but failed, losing what they had. Would the master have rewarded or banished them?

I know, this is a parable, and it’s intended to shake up how we see things. It is what it is, and it does no good to speculate about what would have happened had someone in the story acted differently. After all, this is a story you have imagined. It is not about actual people.

Except us, of course. It’s about us. So I can’t help but wonder.

It seems you want us to see and live beyond our fears. If so, then failure is an option you will prize. Yes, prize. You prize crashing failure over the failure to crash in the cause of your holy kingdom. Failure means a human soul had sufficient faith and courage to risk for the sake of your righteousness. They cared so much that playing safe was not an option.

And they trusted that you would welcome them even when best efforts crashed around their feet. There is faith and nobility in this, and the profound hope that abundant life is about your love, not about winning and losing, succeeding or failing. These things don’t matter much, despite our anxieties about losing out and the illusions the culture daily dumps on us.

What matters is living and venturing for you, allowing your love to lead me far beyond my fears to give myself and substance in service of that which does not fail or tarnish as the eons pass by.

You invite me to trust and risk, to have faith and take courage, using the days not to ensure my safety but to serve a love beyond all telling. You invite me to know that all will be well, and in all manner of circumstances.

And in my time, you will invite me into that happiness that has neither beginning nor end.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 25:14-18

'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one, each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out on his journey. The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.


I wonder, Lord, why did this fellow give anything to the person who had less ability? Why not send him to work for one of the others who have more ability? Everyone would have been happier, and the outcome would have improved for all involved in the transaction.

I know this a parable and intended to shake up my understanding, but there is injustice here at the start. It’s an injustice of expectation. Did he really expect the person of lesser ability to suddenly change and improve? The situation seems set up for failure, which of course comes in due time.

But I am struck by the actions of the three. Two took a risk, and one did not. Two trusted that something good might come; the other lived in fear. And fear, I know, is the great enemy of the spiritual life, so much so that the best and wisest leaders of human souls often stand before their charges and speak two words: ‘Fear not.’

Pope John Paul II did it again and again. In war times, leaders like FDR repeated such words during times of darkest night. The Dali Lama says the same to his oppressed people. And you, Jesus, speak to us in clearest terms, “Do not be afraid. The One who cares for the sparrow is ever near and sees you, too. And I am with you always.”

One man in the parable was afraid, and fear controlled his action. One was governed by fear and the others by … what? Hope? Courage? Trust? The simple ability to live with risk? What is it that you ask of us?

In the silence of conscience, your answer is clear: “Be not afraid. Use what great or small gift you have in my service. Leave the rest to me.

“And don’t live in fear. You need not. Whatever your outcomes in this life, your life remains in me. All is well.

"Cast your fear to the wind … and act.”

Pr. David L. Miller