Sunday, 13 November 2011

Good and faithful servant, come and join in your Masters happiness!

The Gospel this week is from Matthew 25:14-30. It is the parable of the the man who goes abroad for a long time, and entrusts his servants with some of his resources. According to their ability he gives three servants five, two and one talent respectively. The first servant, with five talents used his talent (it is actually nice in English that the name for the coin talent is the same as talent in the sense of ability), and earns another five and similar for the second servant who received two talents and doubles his amount. But the third servant does not use the talent that was given, and instead hides it until the return of his Master.

There are a few things that struck me while meditating on this passage. First of all, it seems that we should not take the parable literal. This will result in some kind of confusion, at least on my part, as the dealing of the Master with the third servant does not seem fair at all if the reading is taken at face value.

Instead, which seems obvious, we can take that the Master represents God. God created us, and knows us, He is very close to us and as such with us. However, here on earth he seems far away, not directly visible, even though he is still the closest to us. And so as in the parable where the man goes on a long journey abroad, far away, and is only coming back 'along time after'. But he does not go away without leaving the servants with specific 'talents'. Here we can take talents as the talents God gives us to do things. He gives us talents in order that we can help Him in bringing other closer to Him, and that is part of our duty as baptized Christians, we use our talents to build up the Kingdom of God.

So the first two servant use their talents wisely, and produce fruit, and as we can read fruit that will last. The master says to them 'Well done, good and faithful servant [...] come and join in your Master's happiness'. The happiness here is the Greek word Karra (χαρά), which is closely related to Karis (χάρις), which means Grace. Grace can be explained as the gift of God to participate with Him in his own life, to join with Him in the most intimate union, and so this is really an invitation of God to join Him in Heaven and to be eternally happy with Him.

Tis then sheds a bit more light on the third servant, and the stiff rebuke that is made. The third servant is given a talent as well, but doesn't use it. I am not sure exactly how to take the fact that he gives as excuse 'that he is afraid of the Master', but it seems to me that God is exactly doing what the servant accuses Him off, God reaps where he has not sown, gathered where he has not scattered, but not in a negative way, but in a positive way out of zeal for His children.

Hence the rebuke that the servant is lazy, and should have put his talent in the bank and at least get some result from it seems justified. The talents God gives us are for the building up of the Kingdom, to bring others to eternal happiness, to show them the way in which they can reach the fullness of life. The third servant does not seem to be comfortable with that, and as such denies the free gift of God and puts it in the damp ground, hiding it in the dark so not to be confronted with it (and possibly with the link to his Master). Therefor the third servant indirectly decides to deny the free gift of eternal happiness which God is given Him as well.

I think that is one way to look at the parable, and there a many small nuances in the rather long passage. I would encourage you to read over it again, and meditate on it for a while. The Gospel is the living Word of God, it speaks to or heart. The Gospel was the force which made me convert from not believing in God at all to eventually becoming a Dominican brother, giving my whole life to God by being a religious! The Word is a force to be reckoned with, but a very gentle force which whispers quietly in our hearts... so quietly that we can easy forget the power it has to transform us in the real images in which we are made!


ellengable said...

Thank you so much for the beautiful reflections on today's gospel. "The talents God gives us are for the building up of the Kingdom, to bring others to eternal happiness, to show them the way in which they can reach the fullness of life." Amen to that!


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