November 16, 2008, Year A
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reflections on the Readings
Theme: A Measure of Faith
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:26)
A contempt for the future is exhibited by the servant receiving the one talent. Each servant receives responsibility 'according to his ability.' The third servant however feels diminished; uninspired by the trust placed in him by his master. A cynical attitude and a contempt for the opportunity given him creeps over his soul; his vision blurred by what he perceives to be an injustice.
This is in contrast with the industrious wife described in Proverbs 31. Working diligently with her hands she 'makes do' with the resources available to her. She is an 'unfailing prize' whose beauty is more than skin deep, who has captured the heart of her husband. She brings him good, not evil, all the days of her life. Her power and resourcefulness comes from her 'fear of the Lord.' This relationship with her Lord causes her to live with a hope and a future. Nothing is trivial to her in the gathering of the wool and flax; the same loving hands reach out to the poor and needy. What has been measured out to her is freely given so that 'she is the talk of the town;' her works praise her at the city gates.
"When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls."
The disposition of the servant given one talent prevents him from recognizing the measure of faith imparted to him. Failing to walk in the light given him he behaves as those who are of the night or of darkness. His master entrusted some of his possessions to him believing he would stay and alert and sober.
Each of us according to the measure of faith which God has given us is to approach ourselves and our responsibilities with sober judgment. (Romans 12:3) Each of us have different gifts according to the grace given to us. St. Paul exhorts us to use them: if prophecy, in proportion of our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:6-9)
The master of today's Gospel has great possessions because he saw opportunity where others saw nothing. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) Active participation in their master's example of faith opens to each servant the possibility of sharing in their master's joy. Greater and more responsibilities would result if they walked in the faith their master lived.
A talent is a measure of money and is equivalent to about $1500.00. To each servant much had been given. "Every one to whom much is given, of him much will be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more" (Luke 12:48b) The master looked forward to welcoming into his inner circle the servants to whom he had committed his fortunes. This is of course a picture of the Kingdom from which we can be excluded if we approach it haphazardly; without genuine faith. It is Jesus' desire that we bear fruit; that we promote the joys of the Kingdom according to the measure of faith given to each one. Jesus said, "Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (St. John 15:2)
In the trust the master showed in his servants there is every reason he hoped for their success. I can imagine him wrapping his arms around each one and whispering in their ears, "I'm counting on you."
Just before Jesus ascended to his Father he embraced his disciples and said, "I'm counting on you." "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:19, 20)
Jesus left everyone with the understanding that until he comes again we are his witnesses. We must embrace our responsibilities according to the measure of faith given to each of us. When our Lord comes again it is with the expectation that his Lordship has increased in each of us; we have faithfully shared the light of the nations.
The Gospel today is especially poignant given the times in which we live. It is extremely important that our faith does not become dormant and barren. Faith the size of a grain of mustard seed possesses the power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is a measure of this faith that is given to each of us.
Such faith is required if we are to persuade humankind that many of our greatest national treasures live in their mother's wombs under a sentence of death.
Such faith is required if we are to persuade humankind that it takes not a village but a Mommy and Daddy to raise a child.
Such faith is required if we are to persuade humankind that food, water and housing is a human right.
Such faith is required if we are to persuade humankind that life is more than the latest styles, the most recent technology, the newest car or the biggest house.
Such faith is required if we are to persuade humankind that the greatest love is the love that gives and forgives. There is no greater love and when time shall be no more it will be love that endures, for love never ends.
Take the measure of faith entrusted to you and wield it with humility and generosity until the whole world shall rejoice with us in God our Savior.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, May the measure of faith you have given me bear witness as your hands extended, your heart in charity, your voice in hope and joy. Amen.