For a full copy of the Newsletter please click on the link: Ordinary Time 33rd Sunday 191117
The end of the Church year quickly approaches. This weekend is the second last Sunday of the Church’s year and we only have next week’s feast of Christ the King to bring it to completion. That might be why today’s Scripture invites us to ponder the big questions of life and death, including the day of reckoning that will inevitably confront each one of us. Sitting in our pews, sometimes overwhelmed by the messiness of daily life and the boredom of routine work, education and recreation, it is understandable if we water down the consequences of this reckoning, or imagine that, in the end, we might be given an exemption. Remember the timely words of St Augustine as he reflected on the crucifixion:
“Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved.
Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.”
Today’s Gospel is the parable of the talents and it is part of a bigger conversation about being accountable for our lives. The hidden message is – whatever you do, don’t presume! As the story goes, the master leaves and entrusts three of his servants with talents, but he does expect a strict accounting upon his return. Don’t underestimate the stakes here – a talent was a measure of weight rather than a coin, so when we hear it used today we must remember that one talent was the equivalent of a labourer’s lifetime of work! The first servant received five talents, the next received two talents and the last was entrusted with one talent. These are indeed large and startling figures.
Two of the servants were enterprising, and the master rewards them. The final servant, however, has simply buried his money. On his return the outraged master strips this last servant of his one talent and casts him into the “outer darkness.”
Our first instinct is to sympathise with this poor servant, after all, he did not lose what was given him? But that is the whole point of the parable. The purpose of being given the talents in the first place is to do something with THEM – or, put more starkly, use them or lose them!
Underlying the expectation of using the talents given us is the assumption of faith. It always is! But in this instance it is combined with that other essential element of faith – RISK. As Christ sees it, risk is no less essential to the life of faith than it is to successful investment. An investor always risks what he presently enjoys for a share in a better, but unrealised, future. For a person of faith, the challenge is always to risk our present security by putting our faith into action, confident that our God will look out for us, both in life and in death.
It is almost as if we are called to be venture capitalists in the ways of faith and not be afraid of risking putting that faith into action. If we are prepared to do that in practical ways this week no one can ever say that we presumed! But more importantly, the joy of what is possible when we do risk putting our faith into action means that we will never despair!
Fr Peter Brannelly