Father David McGough Thirty-third Sunday of the Year Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20 & 30-31; 1 Th 5: 1-6; Mt 25: 14-30 God blesses us all, entrusting us with the precious gifts of his love and forgiveness. The parable of the talents invites us to consider, as the year draws to its end, the manner in which we have allowed God’s grace to bear fruit in our lives.
The parable is taken from the world of commerce. It is perhaps for this reason that some aspects of the parable seem ill-adapted to our understanding of a compassionate God. Before the master’s departure each servant was entrusted with a sum of money proportionate to his ability. The first two servants used the money to their master’s profit. They were rewarded and invited to share the joy of their master. The third servant simply buried his money in the ground, afraid either to use it or lose it. We are shocked by the master’s reaction. The servant was cast out into the dark. What little he had was taken from him. We are puzzled by the master’s summary judgment: “For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” What are we to make of this?
The parable begins to make sense when we try to understand all that is symbolised by the talents entrusted to the servants. The Lord does not entrust us with money, but with the precious gift of his Son. The graciousness of the Father knows of no exceptions. We do not come before him empty-handed, but as those entrusted with his unmerited love. Christ is given to us not indifferently, but as the one who has been poured out and broken for us. The Holy Spirit, given without reserve, enables hearts and minds both to understand and rejoice in God’s love. When we come before God we shall be judged not by the laws of commerce, but by the ways of the heart.
The gift of love can never leave us unmoved. To be loved is to love in return. To be unmoved by love is to choose oblivion, to wither and die. The gift of God’s love cannot be hidden away in a vault. We either use that love, allowing it to bear fruit in our lives, or we hide it away from the world, only to find that it has withered and died from neglect. Such are the gifts of God’s love that we cannot remain indifferent. To be loved is to love, to be forgiven is to forgive, to be understood is to understand. This, surely, is the ledger of profit and loss that stands behind the parable of the talents. To this understanding the master’s judgment is not harsh. If we do not allow God’s love to bear fruit in us, then we choose that the little we have shall be taken from us. Now is the time to submit ourselves to the parable of the talents, to discern the love that God has shown us, to consider the difference that love has made in our lives.
The Old Testament reading, the description of the perfect wife, sets before us a life that gives glory to God. We should not allow ourselves to be swayed by contemporary considerations of what is politically correct. Whatever we are in life, we, like the perfect wife, can choose to see God’s will in every situation. To do the next thing expected of us, to do it well and out of love, is to multiply the talents entrusted to us. It is the everyday path to sanctity.