31Aug 31 August 2013. Saturday of the Twenty First Week

1 Th 4:9ff. Focus on loving one another, and work with your own hands.

Matt 25:14ff. Those who use their talents are rewarded; don’t bury them.

First Reading: 1 Th 4:9-11

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you.

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Talents are for Using

The gist of today’s parable is summarized in the paradox: The haves will get more, while the have-nots lose even the little that they have. Like an automobile or a typewriter, God’s gifts must be kept in use, in order to stay in good condition; non-use leads to stagnation, sticky parts and clogged valves. Physical and spiritual life quickly degenerates in isolation and dark confinement. But the wrong use of life, gifts, automobiles and typewriters also destroys them, even more quickly than non-use. Today’s three readings enable us to balance and integrate these factors in the use of our talents.

It is not God’s will that we bury the Bible as a sacred treasure, but neither must we expect immediate, obvious answers from reading it. Some questions like those about nuclear war or world overpopulation were never addressed in the Bible. Other questions were raised but neglected, like that of slavery which is accepted as a fact of life even in Jesus’ parables and in Paul’s epistle to the slave-owner Philemon. Still other questions are addressed in a way that is clearly valid for today, like Paul’s recommendations to the Thessalonians, “remain at peace; attend to your own affairs-work with your hands; give good example; seek to want for nothing.”

The Bible is just one part of the total process of arriving at the will, answer and word of God. As I trade with the precious heritage of Sacred Scripture, I interact with personal, family, society and church expectations. I pray for the enlightenment of God’s spirit. I seek advice and draw on experience. In this way, those who have traded and interacted will get more… while those who have not traded and interacted are in danger of losing the little they have.”

Paul suggests another motive for praying for help in understanding the gift of Sacred Scripture. Jesus is our sanctification, for he attracts our best self; and our redemption, so that we form a living union with Him, our elder brother, whose spirit and example we try to follow in everything.