Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When we have done our best, we should wait the result in peace

"If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart." — St. Augustine

Gospel text (Lk 12:39-48): Jesus said to his disciples, «Pay attention to this: If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect».

Peter said, «Lord, did you tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?». And the Lord replied, «Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward whom the master sets over his other servants to give them food rations at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master on coming home finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property. But it may be that the steward thinks: ‘My Lord delays in coming’, and he begins to abuse the menservants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he doesn't know. He will discharge his servant and number him among the unreliable.

»The servant who knew his master's will, but did not prepare to do what his master wanted, will be punished with sound blows; but the one who did what deserved a punishment without knowing it shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one entrusted with more».

With all the waiting we do, one would think we would be good at it, that is, that we would more frequently bring a serene spirit, a peaceful heart and a quiet mind to the task of waiting. We have so much experience with it….we wait for the weather to cool off or warm up, we wait in lines for groceries and gas, we wait for the light to turn green and for the end of the day or the end of the week so we can relax and play. But, we are hardly ever in the present moment, waiting patiently, enjoying this breath; this moment of life. More often we are anxious and restless, eager for the time “when”, rushing headlong toward…. well, what exactly?

Today, upon reading this fragment of the Gospel, we realize that each person is an administrator: when we are born, we all receive a heredity of genes and capabilities to fulfill ourselves in our life. We discover that these capabilities, and our very life, are just a gift from God, inasmuch we have not done anything to deserve them. They are the personal, unique and nontransferable gift, which bestows our personality on us. They are the “talents” which the same Jesus speaks about (cf. Mt 25:15), and we should make them grow during our life span. Capabilities for our complete self-realization, but with the additional possibility to communicate and share these values with each other.

It’s easy for us to dismiss this notion of God… as one who is just waiting for us to slip up and misbehave so we can be caught off guard, and then lose our “reward” or worse, receive “punishment. We are tempted to say there is nothing here that can apply to us. These passages, and others in the chapter, reflect Luke’s understanding of the “end time” and Jesus’ return. I imagine that so many years after Jesus’ death, people were growing tired of waiting for his return, and losing their enthusiasm for living fully the Christian life. Jesus exhorts his followers to depend on God, not to count on material wealth, and to be always ready and watchful. Is Luke, in the parables and teachings of Jesus, addressing that impatience and subsequent apathy about living in the Kingdom? Were they, like us, wanting more tangible gratifications of their faithfulness? More immediate results to motivate their continued faithfulness? Perhaps they were asking, “Why should we be faithful, and act like good stewards, when Jesus isn’t here yet? It seems like I have plenty of time, I’ll clean up my act later.” Luke is encouraging them, especially the leaders among them, and us, to live NOW the way we will want to be found by Jesus when he comes… faithful, trusting, as if the Kingdom has already come, because, in a sense, it has.

«You also must be ready» (Lk 12:40), this exhortation implies a call to fidelity, never submitted to selfishness. It is our responsibility to know “how to react” to the goods we have received with our life. «Knowing his master's will» (Lk 12:47) makes us responsible for our actions. It is a matter of justice and love to generously respond to Mankind, and towards each one of its living beings.

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