Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If my hands are fully occupied in holding on to something, I can neither give nor receive.

“What the Bible says is really true—it’s better to give than to receive.” — Ted Turner (1938- ), media mogul and philanthropist

Gospel text: (LK 19:11-28)
While they were listening to him speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins* and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’ And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’ Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’ He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’ And to those standing by he said, ‘Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’ ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.’”

After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Does today’s gospel leave you a little uncomfortable? What’s described here doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t, at least by our standards.

Jesus isn’t talking about God as an international investment banker. Money is just a metaphor. The underlying message is very clear: What we have received is not for us alone; it is to be shared and thereby multiplied. We are stewards, pure and simple. Not just of money – but of talent, aptitude, opportunity, health, heritage, industriousness – everything. It’s all gift, no matter how hard we seem to have worked for it. (Others have worked harder, and have far less.) None of it is intended mainly for us, the caretakers. It is to be shared, not kept. If we don’t see to it that it benefits everyone else, then we’ve failed, and we’ve lost everything we had been given to boot. Yes, indeed. Not our way at all.

Chance alone ensures that assets will become unevenly distributed over time, whether money, talent, or opportunity. Restoring some measure of evenness is up to us as the stewards of all God’s gifts. It won’t happen without us. A disciple of Jesus is not just a believer, not just a member of a Christian church, but someone who actively continues the Master’s work.

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