Monday, November 21, 2011

To Whom Much is Given Much is Required

"Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more." Luke 12:48b

Many attribute this teaching of Christ's to apply to our shepherds, our priests, our bishops, our cardinals, and our Pope.  
In fact the pastor who preached the homily at the Mass I participated in last night, said that verse scares him more than the Last Judgment passage that was the subject of yesterday's Gospel.  The parable of the steward precedes these statements, and the last part "to whom men commit much", seems to support that interpretation.
I am not going to debate that point, yet, I think it applies to all of us.  The "every one" part tells me that.

I think it is important to read the verse in context, after praying humbly in our hearts for the Holy Spirit to illuminate our understanding.

Here is the verse in context:

"And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.  But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating.  Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.  I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled" Luke 12:47-49

Those of us who know we have received faith, knowledge of God, God's love, mercy, forgiveness, blessings, and some--even mystical experiences of his presence, do need to make ready and act according to his will.

As I wrote before, I think that God's will is summarized succinctly in Christ's response to the scribe that was seeking the truth about Jesus, and not to trip him up to improve his standing.  

"Jesus answered, 'The first is "Hear O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."  The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  There is no commandment greater than these.'" Mark 12:29-31
We know from the saints that those that love God, seek actively to cooperate with the grace of God to pray, and lead others through their prayers, sacrifices, words and deeds to Jesus.

Some see the way to do this by living a life of virtue, and speaking in uncompromising way the truths of the church in face of all opposition.  Sometimes we see this in the online discourse.  
I belong to a Catholic Professionals group on Linked In.  There was a post called "Is Catholicism an 'All or None' Proposition?"  The initial post and comments were answering in the affirmative.  Then it took a turn due to the comments by a woman who was "cafeteria catholic" at one point, until she was reached by Jesus, who she describes as finding his lost lamb, and she gives much credit to St. Therese and Our Lady.

I have been learning much lately that even if we find it easy to believe, and obey the teaching of the Church, there is a way of reaching out and supporting those still on the way that is more aligned with Christ's will, and more defeating of the schemes of the adversary to impede that path.  That is simply to follow Christ's commands above.

"Some people making cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing."  Proverbs 12:18

Quote from someone who converted to Catholicism, "Leftism was so ingrained into every element of my life, if you read, if you go to college, if you watch TV the messages are so pervasive and powerful and repetitive. They always say 'leftism is good and compassionate, conservatism is evil and repressive' and they say it in so many ways, under so many guises, telling so many versions of the same story in which the poor, innocent woman/person of colour/gay person/progressive thinker is victimized/oppressed/violated/ by the forces of conservatism. To believe otherwise is to risk crossing over to the evil side. They believe they have the monopoly on compassion and if you oppose them, you oppose compassion and goodness itself.

It was only from the intercession of the Holy Spirit, who skewered me right through the heart like St. Teresa, that I became willing to let go of all of that programming and accept Christ as He was, and the Church as it was. But it was a slow and painful process."

I don't want to be an obstacle to the work the Father is doing to draw these lambs to his Son. I want through my prayers, actions, and words to show sensitivity, love, and compassion that negates the leftist propaganda so I am not in conflict to what the Church, and its head, Our Lord Jesus, taught us about loving and showing compassion, using the Good Samaritan as our example.

As recently as a week ago I realized how insensitive and hurtful my words were when they were coming from understanding of the moral teaching of the church, but detached from the work of love in my heart.  I have been given much, and much is expected from one that has been loved and given as much as I have received.  I was not speaking from the love kindled in my heart from the flames of love emanating from Jesus's Sacred Heart.

What I didn't realize was that when I was speaking in that way, I was playing into the image that conservatism is close-minded, lacking in compassion, ignorant and uncaring of the suffering of others.  I also was speaking from pride rather than from love.  
I was not seeking to understand or to console as St. Francis prayed.

Here are some scriptures that the Holy Spirit directed across my path while I was learning this lesson.  I hope they will benefit you, and bring great glory to our King, as you seek to serve the Lord by loving as you have been loved.

Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."  Luke 11:46

"So now I am giving you a new commandment, Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other."  John 13:34

No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:12

How can we show that God lives in us, and how can we bring his love to full expression so that we are used by God to love and lead others to his Son?  I think the answer is in these two verses among others:
  • He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.  Psalm 147:3
  • I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.  Isaiah 57:15
If we engage in debate from position of pride and desire to win with better logic, or emotional persuasion that isn't rooted in really loving the other we are missing the chance to let his healing reach the brokenhearted.  God wants to restore the crushed spirit and revive the courage of those who know that they are apart from him, and really want to have a restored and fulfilling personal relationship with him again.

Only if we act in faith and love, rather than pride and cold logic can we cooperate with God's will.  He wants what Paul prayed:

And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  Ephesians 3:18

Sometimes we use words that are not abrasive to us that are on the comfortable, right side of church teaching.  We sometimes forget that if it were not for the work of grace, and the prayers of family, friends, and the saints, we might have some of the wounds borne by those we are to love with the love and mercy we have received.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone
 Romans 12:18

Don't use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29

We may use language, or act in a cold, "too bad for you" manner that shows we are not heeding these piercing (at least for me) words of St. John:

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.  Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.  He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still.  He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling.
 1 John 7-10

In this upcoming election season, the liberals are going to be more vocal and more cooperative with the adversary in trying to portray things we know to be contrary to the teachings of the church as wrong, and that in our consciences formed by the light of the Holy Spirit and the gift of receiving true moral teaching, as sin, evil, and destructive.  How will we help draw our brother into the light.  By a cutting remark (see above Proverbs 12:18), or by praying to the Holy Spirit for help to understand and console, and bring them to his Word and to his Church for healing and strength from the great sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist.

And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Don't just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good. 
 Romans 12:9
photo of friends hugging

There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.  Proverbs 27:9

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Ephesians 5:1
Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.  Titus 3:14

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  1 Corinthians 13:7


  1. i Colleen~ I don't know where the Pat It Forward post went. I post the linky in two places and one has vanished. The other was still there on the Bus post. I'll be posting another Pay It Forward for the first week of the month. It will be on that fist week of the month schedule from now on. At least while I'm on this 13 credit hours a semester track--yikes, I'm getting swallowed up! Look for it the 1st of December. Thanks for checking.

  2. Good to know, Holly. Thank you, and thank you for stopping by. I know what it is like to be crazy busy, believe me!

  3. Colleen, while getting dressed this morning, I was thinking about Luke 12:48. Like your priest, I too find it one of the most sobering passages in Scripture. I know that I too have been given much...and wonder why when I see so many who have no faith etc. I certainly did nothing to merit any of it. Yet, Jesus tells us that when we have much, much will be required.

    Thank you for sharing your insights and all the beautiful relevant Scripture verses. You have done a good work by focusing on this.

    One little thing I try to do is to be kind and affirming to everyone I meet, and to smile at others thoughout the day -- like cashiers and clerks, etc. I try to be patient standing in line, etc., and to show gratitude to service people, etc. I feel that life can be so hard, that we all need to give others a break where possible, and even try to be be a ray of sunshine to them.

    It's such a tiny effort, but I hope Jesus sees it as an attempt at charity. I would love to hear what you and others do to try to spread His Love and give back some of what He has given to those of us who are so blessed.

    Love and blessings to you,

  4. Thank you so much for stopping by here, Patricia. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was giving my basketball team a lesson similar. Instead of trying to lead and teach others about Christ and his Church I was speaking to them about how important our tone, and facial expression are when teaching someone. That a know-it-all tone, and a facial expression of disappointment is not the way to encourage a teammate. I think listening and really being present to those around me not just in the world, but in my own home, are the ways I am trying to be more loving as Jesus is to me.

  5. Being our best "at home" is the real test : )

  6. Colleen,
    This is an excellent post. Love is always the key and your post clearly points out that this is the path that we need to take. I like to remind myself that love covers a multitude of sins.

    I liked the Scripture passages you used for this post. There's a lot to think about here. I am working on being present to those around me too. A while back another blogger had a phrase in some of her posts that stuck in my head "living deliberately" and I think focussing on the present helps us with that.

    God bless!

    (I am snickering at Patricia's remark about "being our best at home is the real test". Lol! This is oh so true!)

  7. Great post! I would love to include these thoughts in a local newspaper column I edit here in rural West Virginia! Shalom - Pastor Jon -