Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6 Mathew 25: 14-30
There is a humorous story about a family coming out of Mass. The man says to his wife, “That wasn’t much of sermon that father gave.” The wife adds, “Yea, and the choir sang off key.” Meanwhile, their small son has been listening to his parents’ conversation. Finally, he speaks up, “It seemed all right to me,” he says, “especially considering that it only cost us a dollar!”
Well, I won’t say that you get what you pay for – but Jesus has some words this Sunday about investing what we receive. Last Sunday we heard the parable of the five wise and the five foolish bridesmaids, the five good and the five good-for-nothing. The good entered the wedding hall, and the good-for-nothing were kept out of the wedding hall.
Today’s Gospel parable tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a journey. He entrusted his property to his servants. Three types of servants are mentioned but actually these servants can be grouped into two types; the wise and the foolish, or the good and the good-for-nothing. The good and wise are those faithful servants who know what their master expects and they do it. The good-for-nothing or foolish fail to do what their master expects of them, and this brings punishment on them. They are thrown into outer darkness where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.
Our World, our country, our church, our parish and some of our homes have these types of people: the good and the good-for-nothing; the prepared and the un-prepared. Christ was crucified between the good and good-for-nothing robbers, the wise thief and the foolish one. When Christ comes in glory the sheep will be on His right, the goats on His left.
Where will we be is what we have to work out, whether on the side of the good or of the good-for-nothing. The answer depends on how we use our talents. As in the Gospel, so also today, the distribution of talents is uneven. Some have more, some have less; but each of us has at least one talent. What matters is not what people’s talents are, but how they are used in the service of the kingdom.
The essential teaching in today’s Gospel is to work for God. The Master is Christ. His departure from earth was on Ascension Day. He will return to check on the use of the talents given us. How do we stand? Are we ready for the day of reckoning? It is never too late to be wise and to leave our good-for-nothing state and start being good.
Scripture offers us examples of the foolish turning wise. The good-for-nothing prodigal son wasted his talents, but he realized his sins; he wisely repented and went back to his father. The two robbers on the cross were paying for their crimes. One of them made a right-about turn, left his good-for-nothing state and became good and worthy of the heavenly state. If so many who preceded us have made the change, we too can make the change before the Master’s return.
1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given. We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers. So we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society.
2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. In addition to our homes and families, the best place make use of our talents is in our parish. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the church and in various ministries in our parish, serving as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, Sunday school teachers, singers in the choir, volunteers and members in various parish organizations and community out-reach programs.
3) We need to trade with our talent of Christian faith: All of us in the church today have received at least one talent, namely, the gift of faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the faith, but to work with it. We need to promote and add value to faith by living it out. The way to preserve the faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and make it bear fruit.
Let us start straightaway to use our talents wisely, and produce fruits worthy of our Christian calling. May we one day hear the Master say, “Well done good and faithful servant, come and join in your Master’s happiness.” Amen.