Good morning, happy Wednesdays, an many blessings.
The Gospel today (Luke 19:11-28) presents the parable of the talents in which Jesus speaks of the gifts that people receive from God. All people have some qualities; they receive some gifts or know something which they can teach to others. Nobody is only a pupil. Nobody is only a professor. We all learn from one another.
I recognize that this is a puzzling parable. There are two parallel story lines. First, the hostility between the king and the citizens who want to be rid of him. Second, the interactions between the king and his slaves. The latter receive the most attention. The king himself is avaricious, tyrannical, and cruel. His only positive quality is his willingness to reward loyalty and initiative in his slaves.
It is difficult to see what light the parable throws on the nature of the kingdom of God (which is what the introduction leads us to expect). Could it be teaching that our service of God is not to be grudging, or fearful but generous, imaginative and proactive? That we need a willingness to take risks in responding to God's mandate? That we must be ready "to lose our life" in order "to find it"?
Today we are asked to reflect on the special gifts that God has given to each one of us and how we are using them for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need. Where do we invest our gifts and our talents?
The parable of the talents reminds us that nothing can excuse inaction. We must live our lives with an energy not focused on what we consider our worth to be, but what it can be. The fact that we may have fallen again and again on our life’s journey does not permit us to pause, let alone stop altogether. Failure is not necessarily the loss of what we are given, but a lack of effort to increase it.
The message is clear: the more we invest, the more we will gain. We cannot stand still or just cling to what we have. The only way to gain is to let go, to give and to share. Good examples of this would be St Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa. This is not a popular way of thinking when many feels that life consists of amassing more and that security is in having. But the Gospel way says that it is not collecting but sharing that generates wealth, the wealth that really matters – freedom, security, and peace. Is this true for me?
Jesus seeks people he can trust to take risks, sometimes even recklessly. Cowards will never build the Kingdom. During his last encounter with his apostles, he told them to take the Gospel to the whole world, an impossible mission if ever there was one. Yet he knew whom he had chosen, for they did just that, taking huge risks to spread the Gospel. I ask for the grace to be generous in my response to God’s generosity to me.
I invite you to reflect on these questions today: In our community, do we try to know and to value and appreciate the gifts of every person? Sometimes, the gifts of others cause jealousy and competitiveness in others. How do we react? In our community, is there a space where people can show or manifest their gifts?