November 15, 2020 (readings)
- Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Br. Riley Connors
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.’”
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for being with me. Teach me to listen to your word in the Gospel, in my heart, and in the events of life. I know that you are always speaking, and that you are always drawing me closer to your heart.
1. Share Your Master’s Joy: We could easily read this parable as a story about the servant who buried his talents and was punished. We might mistake this as a warning— as if God was saying, “This is what happens when we don’t live up to expectations.” But what a poor human conception we would have of God! The first two servants did what they could with their talents and so shared their master’s joy. Let’s not forget that we can actually make God happy! God is not like a judge who decides that someone is guilty, but like a father or a friend who is genuinely pleased when we succeed! God says, “You are my servant; I chose you, I have not rejected you—Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:9-10).
2. The Fearful Servant: The servant who hid his talents was afraid—afraid of investing them, afraid of failure, and ultimately afraid of God himself. In his fear, he neglected to look for help in the one place he could have found it: by praying to God. How often we find ourselves worrying! What is your antidote to worry? Distraction? Shopping? A glass of wine? Or do you spend some time reading and praying with the Scriptures? As the Psalmist said, “O Most High, when I am afraid, in you I place my trust” (Psalm 53:3-4).
3. Using Our Talents: The servant who received ten talents was also given the talent that had been hidden. When we “have, more will be given” and we can grow rich. Jesus is revealing not a temporal truth, but a spiritual one. Almighty God never tires of showering graces on those who receive them gratefully and share the fruits with others. We can truly grow ever-richer in grace, because God is so very generous. Everything we experience is a chance to grow in grace and in holiness. Every moment is a “talent.” Let’s not waste our opportunity to love God more and more, and so enter into his joy.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, show me your loving face. I often see you as a taskmaster; someone I need to satisfy rather than a Father I long to please. I love you, and I want to love you more. Help me to follow you more closely today
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take time in prayer to make a list of the talents you’ve given me and pray about how you are asking me to put them in practice.
For Further Reflection: This video from Bishop Barron gives a different twist to the parable of the talents.
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