Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hard Words from St. Luke

Vox clamanti continues to explore the serious side of life...


First, Vic has expressed some concerns about possible gnostic leanings in my last post (under "Two Thoughts on Evolution"). We take heresy very seriously over here, so after I have consulted with Orthodox authorities, I will be sure to clarify what I have written, and any error will be be corrected. Stay tuned.

Hard Words from St. Luke

I grew up Protestant, where Scripture reading and memorization are a way of life. And I have read through the Gospels multiple times, both before and after my conversion to Orthodoxy. Imagine, then, my astonishment and considerable consternation when I read a passage last Saturday that I have never read before. Not only that, but I encountered it again today on the Internet, exceedingly hard words from the mouth of Christ, as recorded by St. Luke:
"Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we aught to have done!' " (Lk.17:7-10, NRSV)
It seems to me that we - or at least I - have this attitude that in doing what is right we somehow merit praise. God should be praising us for not cheating, not stealing, not fornicating, not lying, not looking at a woman with lust, etc. In fact, the marriage supper of the Lamb becomes a celebration about us, with Christ beaming at us with pleasure, saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (cf. Mt.25:21, KJV) And divine revelry ensues.

I don't think that we have a very good conception as to how difficult it is to be a "good and faithful" servant (or slave), not if doing all that the Scriptures command (and they command a lot, to a degree the Mosaic Law never reached) is simply what we must do, and not meritorious in the least.

Think of it ... the Saints were they that fulfilled the commands of the Lord. The ones that lived the New Testament life to the full, who trod on asps, spoke with the angels, gave abundantly to the poor, lived free from the passions ... and yet, they only did what they were told to do. They only did what we have been told to do.

Hard words indeed.

- V.


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, but when we have done what is right and good, from the heart, because it is right and good and expecting no praise, no notice, then just occasionally, God in his extravagant magnanimity will bless us quite by surprise.
It is in that moment, when like a child we receive his gift with wide eyes and without thinking about it we respond, "I love you!" that he takes great delight.

elizabeth said...

yes, hard words; but i think the spirit of the fathers often captures exactly these words... oh that we can learn such humility (and at least for me not be afraid of what it may take to gain it!) blessings on you this day!