Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 40, 54 (Morning)
Psalm 51 (Evening)
Living at Full Stretch
If you look at the Greek word from today’s gospel—what our text calls “fear”—it could be rendered, “sloth,” or more literally read as “dryness.” The text is trying to get us to imagine a person locked in passivity and inaction. I had grown up thinking of sin as an intentional decision to do something wrong and that the outcome of that was fear. The text today suggests that refusing to put to work the God given talents we’ve been given is itself to live apart from God. That when we live reservedly, when we hold back, when we let fear seize us, the beauty that is God’s creation is diminished.
Matthew is not afraid to paint the most extreme picture of what “sin” can produce. The servant in today’s gospel is left in utter darkness. And whatever else Matthew may have meant by this, I think it’s safe to say that for Matthew “passivity, dryness, fear” these are all things that when left to themselves can produce great evil. Fear corrupts. It distorts. And if left unabated, it can destroy.
The story of today’s gospel is that God has given you great talent. God has created you beautifully. And it is the will of God that that beauty shine as brightly and fully as you can possibly imagine it. As cliché as it may sound, for the good of the church, we need you to cash in on your talents. We need the people who struggle with faith, we need teachers, we need artists, we need the poor, we need the wealthy, we need creative minds, we need the strange and lowly, the soften spoken and the loud. We need your talent, here. We need you to live into the fullness of what God has created. Because it is there—humanity at full stretch, in all of its strangeness and beauty—that the glory of God will shine in. There love will triumph over fear. And there the Kingdom of God will come crashing in.
Written by Joshua Daniel, Ph.D.
Joshua is serving as St. Paul’s seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he is (God willing) in his final year of graduate school.