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Home » Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

Fear and Trembling

Submitted by on Wednesday, 5 November 2008No Comment
  • Reading IPhilippians 2:12-18
  • Resp. Psalm:  Psalm 27:1,13-14
  • Gospel Reading:  Luke 14:25-33



The above image is a detail of Caravaggio’s depiction of the Old Testament scene where Abraham is stopped from sacrificing his son Isaac.  The angel in the picture is pointing to the ram that will be used as sacrifice.  Soren Kierkegaard, in a book called "Fear and Trembling" describes the dramatic aspect of faith using the image of Abraham and the sacrifice that was asked of him.  Faith isn’t a bed of roses — it has its dark side.  Kierkegaard describes faith as a leap into the dark, a leap that is only guided by a voice.

The phrase "fear and trembling" comes from the Pauline selection we read today from Phil. 2:12-18.  The phrase is scandalous for those who have been conditioned to think that "once saved, always saved."  For if one is saved absolutely, why would still Paul tell the Philippians "to work out your salvation in fear and trembling"?  Paul is more realistic than modern day soothsayers who preach in order to get ten percent of a congregation member’s pay.  Paul knows that the salvation received is a treasure that is carried about in earthen vessels, that it can be lost by negligence or God forbid by a direct act of rebellion.  Paul assures his community however that they are empowered for salvation, since God Himself is the one who makes it possible for them to desire and work for their salvation (v. 13).

Read an explanation of the Gospel reading here:  The Terms of Discipleship
Philippians 2:12-18
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
12Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
13For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.
14And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations;
15That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.
16Holding forth the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ, because I have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain.
17Yea, and if I be made a victim upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and congratulate with you all.
18And for the selfsame thing do you also rejoice, and congratulate with me.
Psalm 27:1,13-14
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1The psalm of David before he was anointed. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
13I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
14Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.
Luke 14:25-33
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
25And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them:
26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28For which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it:
29Lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him,
30Saying: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31Or what king, about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down, and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh against him?
32Or else, whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace.
33So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple.

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