Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptural Readings: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25: 14-30.
My dear encountered couples:
Let us take note of what is said at the beginning of this parable. “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.” Is this not what God doing at the beginning of creation?
In the Book of Genesis, we are told that after God created the world and all that is in it, he said to Adam, “Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, all the living things that move on the earth.”
Like the man in our parable, God placed his possessions in the keeping of the first man and woman to ever walk the earth, and then passed along a like responsibility to their children and their children’s children.
Now we are some of those children. You and I are included with those servants entrusted with the things of God. How are we doing with them? Using them as God wants us too, misusing them, or not using them at all?
“Talents” in our parable refer to money. I’ve read that one talent was the equivalent of one hundred pounds of silver. Even at today’s low market price for silver, that’s a lot of dough. The rich man must have had quite a bit of trust in his servants to leave so much with them to manage. Like God does with us.
God put into his created nature the riches that exist in him. He put a part of himself in everything we see around us. The most valuable part of himself he put in us, the ability to think and decide and manage. I prefer the word “manage” to the old one used in the various translations of the Bible - “dominate” or “have dominion” over all of God’s creation. We have not been given the authority to rule selfishly or self-servingly, we have been given the managerial authority to see to the health and welfare of all God’s creation — human, animal, plant, and mineral. All are to receive the benefits of our active consideration.
When you use the talents God has given you, and I use what God has given me, we are able to take care of much more than if one of us neglects to use our talents and leaves all the work up to the other. When every person on earth uses his and her talents as God intends, all of God’s creation is taken care of properly. No one of us can do it all. But when we each do our part; it all gets done. No one and nothing will get overlooked or shortchanged.
When God gives us a job, he also helps us to carry out that job. That’s part of those graces we hear so much about. Though the man in the parable left his servants to do their own thing without any assistance from him, God gives us all the help we need. In many forms by many means God provides us with incentive, ideas, energy, courage, whatever it is we need, and in the end — success — in the way he measures success. God not only shares with us his talents and abilities; he helps us to use them.
And it is not only certain people God has put in charge of his creation. It is not just the elite, or those who sit in the chairs of political and religious authority that God has entrusted his world to. It is all of us! Each and every human being in varying degrees and to varying extents has been given some of the talents and abilities of God.
Like the three servants in today’s parable some of us may have been given more than others, but not necessarily better. The man with the five talents and the man with the two both entered into their master’s joy, and so would have the man with only one talent if he had used it to produce good as his master had trusted him to do.
No matter what kind, or how many of his gifts we have been given, what is important to God is that we use them for good. Our making, or not making a genuine effort all our lives to put our talents to good use is what will go into the deciding of whether or not we enter into God’s happiness. Heaven is for those who use their talents to help carry out and complete the work begun by God.
There is one misunderstanding that seems to be prevalent in today’s society. And that is that all we have, all we are, and all that the world contains is for our own personal use and for our own personal satisfaction. Whether we misuse or waste what the world contains is of little importance, says a certain segment of society. We are to see to our own profit and happiness here and now, step over and on other people if we have to, but make sure Number 1 is taken care of. That concept is, of course, incorrect.
Our lives and abilities are not meant selfishly for ourselves; the world is not ours to pillage and plunder as we wish. We are to use the good God has placed in us for furthering the good of all God’s creation. It is only in using what we have for the good of others that we become open ourselves to receive from those others, and from God, what is genuinely good for us.
There is much talk about globalism these days. That we should not restrict our thinking to our own neighborhoods or countries. We are to take into consideration all the peoples of the world, treat animals well, preserve the vegetation, clean up and keep clean the rivers, lakes, and air. Though some who push globalism do so to make a truckload of money for themselves, God wants us to do it to make all people secure, safe, and happy.
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but God as our Father wants all his children to have as good a life as possible on this earth. He doesn’t want us to suffer and be unhappy in this life any more than he wants us to suffer in the next. But instead of personally seeing to every facet of our care himself, he has passed that honor on to each of us to watch out for one another.
God has, so to speak, distributed his talents among us and gone on a journey, trusting that while he is gone, we will use his gifts to make this world a better place for all. First for those nearest to us, then for those far off. As a stone thrown in a pond sends tiny waves to all the shores, the value in the good we do wherever we are can touch the lives of people in far-off lands.
“I gave you responsibilities,” God will say, “and you carried them out well. Come with me, and share my joy.”