Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

When I Come Again, I Will Repay You

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Keraza Magazine issue 45-46 November 21, 2014

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Lord Christ mentioned: "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you" (Luke 10:35). The innkeeper here symbolizes every person God entrusts over His flock, be it a priest, a servant, a father, or a mother. From the Lord's words, it becomes apparent that this shepherd, although given two denarii to spend on his commissioned task, was granted permission by the Samaritan to spend more than the two denarii, and whatever is spent, the Samaritan would repay at his return. Actually, two denarii was not a small amount, as it is common knowledge that a laborer's daily wage at that time was one denarii, and so the two denarii are two days' worth of work.

If we assume that the innkeeper actually did need to spend more than the two denarii, for some reason or other, he would need to spend from his own funds until the Samaritan repays him. What if the Samaritan delayed in his return? This amount will be a deficit in his own funds until the Samaritan returns and repays him all.

This is the case for all who shepherd God's flock; this is fulfilled in them: "To whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:48). The two denarii were much, but the innkeeper was asked to spend more than that, from his own funds. But, why did the Samaritan intentionally give him only two denarii? Why did he not give him ten denarii from the start, for example, and when he returns he could collect what remains? No doubt it is a profound spiritual test of one's faith, where the person is asked to spend first from personal belonging in hope of being repaid later, as a token of faith in the Lord's promise to return and repay the debt. This is exactly what happened with Abraham, who was asked to raise the knife and prepare to sacrifice his son first, and thereafter the Lord would give him a ram to sacrifice instead; what happened with the widow of Zarephath from whom Elijah asked to make a cake for him first and thereafter comes the blessing in the bin of flour and jar of oil; and what happened with Daniel who was required to be thrown in the den first, and then the angel shut the lions' mouths.

Spending on hope of the promise is a true expenditure on all levels. It is a cost on a material level that is tangible in time, money, health, and effort, and on an immaterial unseen level in concentration, attention, feelings, emotions, and thoughts: "I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls" (2 Corinthians 12:15). It is the expenditure of the cross, the narrow gate, and the second mile. It is a true mortification, bearing a very true pain, like the pains of the Master which were not a staged act or a mirage. Blessed are you, whoever you are, who spend the third dinar, fourth dinar, and fifth dinar from your own funds in fulfilling the will of God, believing that "He who promised is faithful"(Hebrews 10:23), because, "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:37).

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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