Grace from the Heart of the King
November 17, 2021 (readings)
- Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
- Beth Van de Voorde
While people were listening to Jesus 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 man; 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 man, 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.’ He replied, ‘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.
Opening Prayer: My Lord and my God, I come into your presence for this time of prayer. I believe that you have something you wish to say to me today and I open my heart before you to receive your word. Increase my faith that I may welcome you, my hope that I may cling to you even when you seem to delay, and my love, that you may live in me more and more each day.
The Value of Time: This passage puts us in the proper context for the upcoming Solemnity of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the liturgical year, and the last days before Advent begins. To prepare for his coming in the manger, we recall that he also reigns from the throne of his cross, where redemption was won. In this passage, Christ presents himself as this nobleman who goes off to obtain the kingship for himself and will one day return. His mission is to redeem his children, as Universal King. Our mission is to receive this great gift and to cooperate with him in making his Kingdom present. Each Christian should consider him or herself counted among these ten servants, charged with the care of “talents” in the service of our King.
The Coin: What is the “talent,” the coin given by the king? It must mean more than human qualities or characteristics, which we usually refer to as talents. The ending of the passage hints at an answer: These coins could represent the life of grace, the dwelling of God in the soul. This sanctifying grace comes from Baptism, we know; it is wounded by sin but grows with every act of openness and surrender, of trust and self-giving to God. In a word, love causes this life to grow, because God is love. And all authentic love comes from him. Fear, doubt, clinging to one’s own insecurities—these can make us like the fearful servant, unwilling to take the risk of love.
Great Love: Jesus’ words at the end of this passage may seem strong to us—a grave admonition we find it hard to swallow. But if we dig a bit deeper, we can hear the heart of the King—a King whose heart would soon be pierced open to wash his children clean in the blood of the Lamb (c.f. Revelation 7:14). From the depths of the heart of God, he longs for all to be saved. How often our response to God’s invitations can be hesitation, fear, or the desire for control or perfection. But what he desires is faith, hope, and love. So great is his desire, and often so great our hardness of heart, that he speaks this strongly, hoping we will understand and heed his warning.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I place myself at your feet. You are my King and King of the whole world. You invite me to share in your mission, to make present your Kingdom here, within my own life, home, family, school, office, circle of influence. This is a great mission and you know that sometimes I am afraid, I hold back, and I feel I don’t know what you want from me. Open my heart to greater trust in you so that I may keep giving myself to others with love, as you do, every day. In this way, may your grace, your life, increase in me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will seek to strengthen the life of grace in my soul by getting to Confession as soon as I can.
For Further Reflection: Have you read the conversation between Andrea Tornielli and Pope Francis, entitled, “The Name of God is Mercy”? Here’s a link with information about it and where to find it. Touching on some of the themes in today’s passage, it’s a brief but profound read.
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