Good day, all. Glory be to God. In the month of September, I studied 4 devotionals. They were:
- Luke 10: 25-37 (Who is My Neighbour?)
- Luke 16: 19-31 (What's Your Attitude to Wealth?)
- Matthew 22: 34-40 (The First & Great Commandment)
- Matthew 25: 14-30 (We Shall Give Account)
Almost every reading this month, covered a parable. From the parable of "The Good Samaritan," to the parable of "The Bags of Gold." Some of these parables I was already familiar with, but others I was not. So reading them again gave me a chance to reflect on them and their meaning. Let's start with the first one: Luke chapter 10, verses 25 - 37.
Who is My Neighbour?
This reading told of an occasion in Jesus' life where he was questioned by an expert in the law who asked "What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?" To answer his question, Jesus asked him what was written in the Law, and he answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbour as yourself.
You have answered correctly, Jesus replied. Do this and you will live. But the expert in the Law then went further to ask: "And who is my neighbour?" To answer him, Jesus then told the parable of the Good Samaritan.
If you are not familiar with this parable, it tells the story of an unfortunate traveller who is waylaid by robbers during his trip and beaten and robbed of all his possessions then left for dead on the road. While in this poor state, a number of people pass by and ignore him except for a Samaritan who takes pity on him, bandages his wounds and lodges him in an inn - taking care to pay for that too.
Jesus then asks the expert in the Law which one of the passers by was a neighbour to the robbed man. Obviously, it is the Samaritan who took pity on him. This reading just reminded me to have a heart for charity and be willing to help those in need when I am able.
Reading that parable again now, I am reminded of my uncle who was mugged around the same time. Unfortunately his life could not be saved. But we thank God for the good Samaritan who lent him her phone so that he could call his wife for help and make it to the hospital.
What's Your Attitude to Wealth?
The next reading I took up was also a parable. This time, it was the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. The parable told the story of a rich man who lived in the lap of luxury and ate all the finest fare while a beggar with sores named Lazarus lived at his gate and could only dream of eating the crumbs from his table.
When they both died, Lazarus went to heaven (to sit beside Abraham) whilst the rich man went to hell. Seeing Lazarus on the other side, the rich man pleaded with Father Abraham to let Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water and drop it on his tongue to cool him - for he was finding his torment unbearable. But Abraham reminded the rich man that when they were alive he enjoyed much whilst Lazarus suffered. Now it was time for Lazarus to be comforted whilst the rich man suffered.
On hearing this, the rich man decided to plead for his siblings. He asked instead that Lazarus be sent to testify about the afterlife to his five brethren. But this was also denied as Abraham said that they have Moses and the prophets and if they don't believe them, they wouldn't believe Lazarus either.
Like the parable of the Good Samaritan, this parable also preaches compassion. For all the years that the beggar was suffering at the rich man's gate, he never took pity on him. Now that the time had come to suffer judgement, he wished he had made a different choice; or that his brethren still living could be warned to make a different choice.
Compassion. Charity, and Care were the big messages in these last two readings. Now on to the next one.
The First & Great Commandment
Funny enough, the verses highlighted in this reading are the same ones highlighted in my first reading before the parable. That is:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
These were basically the focus of my third reading. No parable. No story. Just the answer to the question "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
We Shall Give Account
For my final reading of the month, Jesus gave me one last parable: The Parable of the Bags of Gold. This parable, similar to the parable of the talents features a master who travels and leaves behind his wealth with his servants. To one he gives 5 bags of gold, to another 2 bags, and to the last, 1 bag. Then he sets off on his journey. Each servant puts the bags of gold to work, thereby earning more money. All except the last servant who buries his one bag of gold in the ground for safe keeping.
After a long time their master returns and settles accounts with them. To the one he had given 5 bags, 5 more bags had been earned. To the one he had given 2 bags, 2 more had been earned. The master, happy with their faithfulness and work in earning more gold, put them each in charge of more things. But for the last servant who had buried his lot in the ground. This servant said the following: "Master, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you"
To this last servant the master erupted in anger saying: "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest."
"So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
To be honest, when I first read this parable, I couldn’t see what the last servant had done wrong. Yes, he didn't invest his bags of gold like the others had but nonetheless he had returned to the master what he was given. Hadn't he therefore done the minimum acceptable thing? Yet the parable shows us that God does not expect "the minimum acceptable" from us. He expects a return on his investment.
So applying this knowledge to real life, means that God expects us to make something of ourselves. All our talents, all our gifts, and all our opportunities, are not just for show. We are expected to use them to the best of our ability, because when the time comes to give account, we do not want to end up like the rich man in torment.
Now putting together all my readings from September, I get:
Love God. Love your Neighbour. Love Yourself... and Do Your Best!