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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fear of the Lord

November 13, 2011 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for this Sunday make me think of the term “Fear the Lord” or “Fear of the Lord.”

Our first reading is from the Book of Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31.
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands.She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

In this reading from Proverbs, the characteristics of a worthy wife are described. This woman brings goodness and love to her husband and to those around her. She cares for all those who need her and can be praised for her work. But her fear of the Lord is the most important reason for praising her. The capstone of her life’s work is found in that fear of the Lord.

Psalm 123 expands upon the concept of fear of the Lord and describes some of the blessings given by the Lord to those who fear Him. If we fear the Lord, we will do our best to walk in His ways. Just as the woman described in Proverbs is blessed because of her fear of the Lord, so the man described in this psalm is also blessed.

R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessedwho fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:may you see the prosperity of Jerusalemall the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Finally, in our Gospel for today (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus tells His disciples a parable about a man who entrusts his servant with talents, each according to his abilities. Upon the man’s return, he rewards or punishes these servants based upon their actions with regard to the talents which they were given. The master rewarded those servants who added to the number of talents they were given and punished the ‘useless servant’ who did not add to the talent he was given.

Jesus told his disciples this parable:"A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one -- to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money.After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.'His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters,I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, 'Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.Come, share your master's joy.' Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plantand gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.' His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

In all three of these readings, ‘fear of the Lord’ leads to an increase in grace and blessings from God. The worthy wife continues to be blessed as she lives her life in accordance with the Lord’s will. The blessed man described in the Psalm also receives an increase in grace and blessing as he lives his life following in the ways of the Lord. Finally, the two servants who work to live up to the responsibilities given them also receive an increase in grace and blessings (talents).

Thinking about these readings led me to wonder about the third servant, the man who buried the talent given him. When the master returned, servant could only give back the single talent he had received. This “wicked, lazy servant” had made no effort to improve and grow. As Dom Vonier wrote, “The more a man has, the more God will give him, because there is nothing that pleases God more than to enrich his creatures, and whenever he sees a man making good use of his gifts, He pours more and more upon him with lavishness which is astonishing (Magnificat, Nov 2011).

As I look at how I live my own life, I begin to question myself. Do I truly fear the Lord? Do my daily actions reflect that fear? Or do I just float along, day after day, being content with where I am? Where is my desire to improve and grow? Do I consistently conduct my life in a way that reflects my fear of the Lord? Does the Lord say to me “Come share my joy?” Or am I often a “wicked, lazy servant?” This week’s readings have forced me to re-evaluate how I am living my life, and that kind of reflect is always a good thing. Spiritual growth never occurs in a vacuum.

Peace and blessings, Judy

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