Sunday, November 16, 2014

You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibility. - Viktor Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor)

Gospel Text: (MT 25:14-30)
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

The story is not hard to follow. A nobleman entrusts three servants with various portions of his wealth with instructions to invest it profitably. Two of the servants acquit themselves well and are recognized accordingly, but the third does not. The third servant offers an excuse, but the excuse is not accepted. Notice that he does not ask for forgiveness or make any reference to his master’s generosity. Instead, he tries to justify his failure to do what he was told by accusing his master of being too demanding. How easy it is for fallen human nature to adopt such an ungracious attitude. And so the servant is justly deprived of what he was given to include its potential for more and he is justly punished for his ill will and idleness. Notice, too, that it is not only his misuse of his gifts that earns his punishment, but also his non-use of them, his failure to do anything.

No action, no moment, no joy or sacrifice is too small or too insignificant to have its own proper echo in eternity, if only we will permit it to do so.

Mother Teresa saw this as evidence of not only God’s justice and love, but also of His humility. Remember when Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches”? (Jn 15:5) Mother recalls our attention to something so obvious that we might miss its meaning. Where does fruit appear, on the vine or on the branches? On the branches. In the parable, did you notice that the master did not claim for himself either the money he originally gave to his servants, nor did he claim the profit that they had merited? He left all of that treasure in the possession of those who had followed his instructions faithfully.

And Our Lord wishes to do the same for us.

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