Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unprofitable Slaves


We had finally had two days of rain, some of it very hard. This morning the rising sun peeked out under the clouds and threw an almost unearthly light on the shoreline and trees and bushes, before being hidden again above a completely cloudy sky.
I meditated today on Luke 17:5-10. The initial difficulty I have with the parable is that Jesus takes for granted that I would know what it is like to be the master of a slave. When the slave comes in from doing hard outside work, wouldn't I expect him to fix my meal and wait on me before he gets anything to eat himself? I have a hard time imagining myself into such a situation.
But what really brings me down is telling God, after I have done my duty, that I am an "unprofitable slave." The Greek word used by Luke means "unprofitable." It doesn't seem to fit the context. Neither do some other attempts to translate the word as "useless, worthless, humble, good for nothing." I can say that by doing a retreat day and some Masses and going to a funeral and taking time for meditation I have merely done my duty and expect no particular praise. I realize that I can do those things only because God is doing them in me. In that sense I might be God's "humble" slave, but I can hardly think of all that as "unprofitable" or "worthless."
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