Just a word… Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time…
Just a word… Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time… November 15, 2020
Why in the world did the servant who received a single talent bury it? The first and the second servants played the market shrewdly and doubled their master’s investment. But the third, perhaps for the reason specified in the gospel… he saw the master as demanding and he feared retribution… he played it close to the vest and kept his talent in what he considered to be a safe place. Burying is the clue here… according to Rabbinic law, burying assets was the best security against theft, as it rendered you not liable and therefore not having to repay if a theft was involved. Underestimating his master, he took no risk and played it safe. But this gospel is not a lesson in economics. Placing it in the context of the two previous parables, Jesus is setting the stage for his second coming and trying to prepare his followers for the final judgment. Using that lens we can see this story from a different perspective. Perhaps this parable is an attempt to convey that we are to use well what God gives us, and that exercise involves not playing it safe, but taking risks.
After all, consider that the Church began on a risk and a dare. The ancient Jewish community dared to believe in the promise of a Savior, a promise that was fulfilled in Jesus’ coming. His early followers moved beyond the security of their traditional Hebrew beliefs and took the risk of placing their hopes and faith in the person and promises of their Teacher. As time went on, the early fathers and mothers of the church took risks, and some died as a result. But the Church grew to where we find ourselves today.
What about us? We are called to be risk-takers as well. We are to be like the two servants who invested their master’s wealth, by increasing our resources… our talents, gifts and faith, and sharing them with those most in need, much as the early Church did. Jesus is telling us that we are not to hide our potential or safeguard our talents, but are required to expand them, to employ these gifts from God in the service of others, as together we work to help build up the Kingdom of God.
At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, I believe the Lord will ask each of us, “What did you do with the gift I gave you?” Whether that gift was intelligence, kindness, ingenuity, wealth, wisdom, leadership, peace-making… whatever particular gifts might have been yours, or mine… did we bury them or keep them simply for ourselves, or did we use them to make the world a better place? As we move rapidly toward the end of the liturgical year, this Gospel implores us to consider these questions, and one more. Will the Lord be able to say to each of us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come share your Master’s joy!” ?