“That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely” (Lk 12:47).
Jesus, as did the prophets, spoke in ways that can be jarring. The purpose was to shake his listeners out of a dull stupor and to make clear his point. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus addressed Peter’s question: “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone” (Lk 12:41)? Jesus was most likely speaking to Peter and the Twelve. They are the ones he entrusted with continuing his mission. And just as he had been clear to point out those Pharisees who had abused their positions, he was being clear with Peter and the apostles. Jesus wanted to make sure that his successors were not to continue on with business as usual. What Jesus required of them was not just for themselves, but those whose care they had been entrusted with and beyond them to all the nations. His parable was for both the Twelve first and foremost and then to everyone.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed those in Church leadership who have in effect, “beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk” (Lk 12:45) on their own power. Those who have: abused children, covered abuse, skimmed off the top of the donations from the blood, sweat, and tears of their parishioners’ donations, limited access to positions within the leadership of the Church to only male or clergy, been unmerciful confessors, held up the sin of one group or groups while turning a blind eye to others. These and other forms of hypocrisy do irreparable damage.
The world has been darkened by sin and so has the Church. Even though all of us have been wounded we have not been destroyed by sin. The Son of God entered into the condition of our fallen nature, became one of us, one with us, and overcame the darkness of sin. Even when those in his name have participated in and perpetuated in that which Jesus warned his Apostles against, we are not to lose heart nor hope. I agree with Bishop Robert Barron that we are called out of “the realm of hatred, racism, sexism, violence, oppression, imperialism, what Augustine termed the libido dominandi (the lust to dominate).”
We are called out of this darkness to be children of the light. There have been many throughout the ages as well as up to and including our own present time who have done just that. They have embraced the light of Christ allowing it to reveal to them their sins. With humility and contrition, they confessed their weaknesses and failures and from this place of surrender, they were healed and transformed. They have become an empty cup able to be filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus. We too are to be open to opportunities to share the purifying light, the healing salve of the Father’s Love that we have received so also to spill over into the lives of those in our realm of influence.
Photo: Crucifix front entrance of St Peter Catholic Church, Jupiter, FL
Barron, Robert. Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith. NY: Image, 2011.