Reflections on the Readings
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 13, 2011 - Year A
Building Up the Kingdom of God!
But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. (Matthew 25:18)
I work as a Customer Service/Lead Agent for a bank Customer Service Center. Before my current position I took around 30,000 calls a year as a Customer Service Representative. A common call to the Customer Service Center is about a dormant account. An account becomes inactive when there is no activity into or out of the account for about two years. If the inactive status remains for another couple of years the account status is changed to dormant . Then, if the account remains dormant for another couple of years the account status is changed to escheatable and is turned over to the state as unclaimed funds. In effect it becomes buried treasure.
The treasure of marriage is highlighted in today's first reading. Finding a wife is a good thing and her worth is beyond precious jewels. She is known by her commitment and incalculable investment in the good of her marriage and home. Let's face it men, behind every successful man is a wife whose influence shapes the home into a haven of rest for her family. She makes room in the budget to house, feed, and clothe the poor. The good done by our wives goes mostly unheralded except in Proverbs chapter 31.
No grass grows under her feet. She coordinates a week's activities and responsibilities that would make many CEO's of large companies dizzy. This is in stark contrast to the servant who plays it safe in the Gospel today. Jesus calls him "wicked and slothful and worthless." I suppose this man thought his one talent was enough - but he lost even what he had. What if we play it safe and stay back and uninvolved but lose our soul?
Sometimes we just need our souls stretched out. The recent readings leading up to Christ the King Sunday stretch us. Jesus wants us to become his personal emissaries. He relies on us to build up his kingdom. He sends us out into the world to live for him and to lift him up. He gives us the light of his love and asks us to invest it in those loved less. We represent a kingdom that has no end. We must not become inactive, and dormant, and finally estranged from our maker and redeemer.
I remember an illustration concerning a Christian young man who went off to college. He decided that he would not bring any attention to his beliefs and Christian upbringing. So for four years he encountered no opposition; no one ever suspected that he was a Christian. In every way he denied the power of the life he claimed he possessed. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ needs tending and it needs sharing. It is also living and powerful and filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Jesus empowers us to be witnesses to redeem in his love a little bit of the world around us.
The Parable of the Talents help us to see more deeply into what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Are we grateful for the part he gives us to be his sons and his daughters in his kingdom? Certainly the servant who received five talents and the servant with two talents saw themselves in relationship with their master. With grateful hearts they looked forward to his return as children of light remaining alert and engaged in his work. They wanted to see his goodness multiplied in their efforts and the stewardship entrusted to their care flourish.
The two faithful servants wanted more - they desired more - they saw the potential in what they had received. The slothful servant was paralyzed with fear. Fear of failure or fear of risk impedes success and makes sterile what once had potential. The wicked servant congratulated himself and conjured up reasons why he was reluctant; why he played it safe; why he comforted himself in being lukewarm.
It may not always be convenient to show your true heavenly identity. But the incalculable investment you make to help someone see the love of Jesus increases the gift he gives you to share. The kingdom just gets bigger and the world becomes less dark!
The Lord is returning and his coming is not a surprise for those who expect him. But the wicked servant who buried his treasure also buried his belief in the future of the kingdom of heaven. The master upon his return was not impressed with his recalcitrance.
My dear brothers and sisters, all of us have something to add to the community of faith and to the world in which we live. We are each endowed with varying abilities. Some of us may be gifted with much. You may feel limited in your abilities. But all of us are called to do the good that he gives us to do. To each of us the Spirit gives us gifts to share. If we do not fulfill our calling we become inactive and dormant.
To keep us always alive in his love our Lord gives us himself - his very self - in this bread which is his body and in this wine which is his blood. This living sacrifice is for our good - for the good of His Church - for the good of the world. Receiving him increases in us the goodness that comes from Christ in us. In this Holy Eucharist Christ gives us an increase of his kingdom; he gives us his help to build up the kingdom in our families and in our world. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com