And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:30
Simeon (at the age of 13 after hearing a reading from the Gospels): “What does fearing God mean?”
Unnamed elder: “Why are you asking me such serious questions?”
Simeon: “I am seeking through you for an answer from God. I want to learn about the things I was listening to, because I am ignorant and unlearned.”
Unnamed elder: “If you fast continually, offer prayer moment by moment, humble yourself before all other human beings, renounce attachment to money, parents, clothing or possessions, but nevertheless honour your father and mother and the priests of God, you will inherit the eternal kingdom. And on the contrary, if you do not keep these things you will inherit the outer darkness which God has prepared for the devil and all his angels (Matthew 22:13; 25:30). All these things, my son, are fully lived out in monasteries.” At these words Simeon fell at his feet.
Simeon: “You are my father and mother,” he said, “teacher of everything good, and a guide to the kingdom of heaven. You have won over my soul, which before was on the way to perdition. May the Lord reward you for the change wrought in my soul. I shall do as you say and go to a monastery, if God wills, and may his will be done in me.”
Unnamed elder: “My son, before you go off to a monastery, listen carefully to what I say. You will find tribulation, you will have to serve and keep vigil in nakedness, and undergo unknown evils before finding consolation as a precious vessel of God.”
Simeon Stylites (390-459) in Life No 10, The Life of St Simeon Stylites by Antony, his disciple.
Today’s Scripture alerts us to the outcome that worthless servants can anticipate. What might a worthless servant look like today? It seems that avoiding such a label should be a concern for us.
Alternatively, the path to fruitful service is fearing God, renouncing all other attachments, and finding consolation (despite inevitable difficulties) in God alone.
In the days of the desert fathers, they found such commitment in the fellowship and Christian community located in monasteries. What might the modern-day equivalent to the monastery be?
The pathway to generous living, giving, serving, and loving generously requires the fear of God, the renouncing of all other attachments, and finding consolation in Christ.
A friend said to me recently that he felt Americans value comfort over commitment to Christ. If that’s true, perhaps the modern pattern reflects the life of worthless servants. Lord have mercy.
God, regardless of what others do, we fear you and will demonstrate that fear by renouncing other attachments. By your Holy Spirit help us stay this course despite difficulty, finding consolation only in Christ. Amen.Read more