ON BEING RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS
We are now on the thirty-third Sunday. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Hence, our readings at this time are about the last things – death, the end of the world, final judgment, heaven and hell. These are the hard realities we can never avoid. It is, therefore, necessary and wise to do our preparation way ahead of these inevitable events.
The first reading today comes from the Book of Proverbs, which is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. The selection today tells us the value of a good wife. In reality, the good wife is a model for all of us, women or men. Such a person brings good and blessings to all others, knows how to do things wisely, knows how to work, know how to care for the poor and knows how to care for her husband and her family. One of the points of this reading is that physical beauty can be deceiving and what really counts is beauty of character. The wife in this reading is clearly a person who knows how to use and invest her talents in the realities that will last forever. She know how to live towards death with all that truly matters.
The parable of the Ten Virgins last Sunday reminded us that we must have ample supply of oil to keep our lamps burning in preparation for the coming the Lord Jesus at the end of time. This Sunday, the Gospel gives us the parable of the Talents. It reminds us of the unannounced coming of the Lord and the time for accounting and judgment. Hence, there is the need to properly use our talents and gifts for the glory of God and the welfare of our fellowmen.
In today’s liturgy we are presented with the parable of the talents. It is a parable on Stewardship. Here a man left his possessions in the care of his servants. On his return, he obviously expected that they had done something productive with the talents. One servant did not earn any while the others presented some profits. The man found the one who had not earned any profit unproductive and unworthy and therefore took what was entrusted to him and gave it to the one who earned most. In the same way, God has endowed us with many gifts, talents, opportunities, intelligence, strength, riches, personality, body, etc. What have we done with them? Do we have fruits to present to the Lord?
The meaning of the parable is clear. We are the servants. The talents are the blessings God has given us – time, intelligence, our capacity to love, temporal goods, family, and the like. The journey of the master signifies our life in this world. His sudden return stands for our death. The settling of accounts is our judgment. The eternal banquet is Heaven.
All of us had been given gifts. Everything we have and are came from God’s generosity. Like in the parable, He expects us to bear fruit. Material gifts must increase or shared to others. Talents must be used in accordance with God’s will. Spiritual gifts must inspire others as we, ourselves, advance our relationship with God. Are our gifts blessings to us? Gifts, to be a blessing, must be used for God’s greater glory. What do we use our gifts for? Why was the gift given to us in the first purpose? Do we use, misuse or abuse the gifts God has given to us? Our gifts are meant to be used for the greater of God, the salvation and sanctification of our souls and for the betterment of mankind.
We are not alien to the fact that sometimes the very gifts God gives to us are often used for the very wrong purposes. We must note that our gifts are not to be stifled or should they remain stagnant and fruitless, NO! Much more, they ought not to be used against the will of God. Sadly, some of us use are gifts to offend God. We indulge in sinful activities with our gifts. We use our gifts for selfish purposes. We use of intelligence to dupe and cheat others. We dishonour our bodies and use it for immoral activities. We use our wealth to curry favours and to corrupt others. It is unfortunate that the very gifts given by God are being used for sinful purposes; for actions that get to displease God. In the process, the blessings become curses!
St. Augustine says, Our life is a gift from God; what we do with that life is our gift to God. Let us all ask ourselves what we are using our gifts for, and what sort of fruit are we likely to bear or are we bearing? We are called to be responsible stewards and to use wisely the gifts God has given to us. In the end, we must give an account to God of our stewardship. Have used our gifts to win souls for God or we use them to win bodies to ourselves? Have we used our gifts to impact positively the lives of others? Do we spend our lives and gifts in places and for things that God will truly appreciate us or we spend them on things that fail to edify God?
We see here that the master generously rewarded the two hardworking servants who were productive with their talents. He was however, utterly disappointed with the report of the third servant who buried his talent in the ground because he was afraid of the Master and for fear of taking risks. The servant did not realize that it was better to try and fail, than not to have tried at all. The master was so angry at the attitude of the third servant and described him as wicked and worthless. Friends, we must realize that we are called to make conscious efforts in our Christian pursuit of holiness than to resign ourselves to the theology of human weakness. The word of the Lord in Jonah 3:10 says, the Lord saw their efforts to renounce their evil behavior and did not inflict on them the disaster He had threatened. The efforts the people of Nineveh put in renouncing their bad deeds was commendable. We too need to make efforts both in our material lives and spiritual lives.
The parable of the talents illustrates the importance of accountability, which the Apostle Paul speaks about in his letter to the Thessalonians. Paul called on the Thessalonians to be ready for the day of the Lord when they will be called anytime to render account of how fruitful or fruitless they have been. According to Apostle Peter, “Each one of you has received a special grace; so like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words, which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11).
In all honesty, we have to admit that sometimes we are like this third servant. Instead of looking at our self and counting our blessings, we look at other people who have more. We become envious of them and our discontent grows. So, instead of thanking God and using His blessings, we complain. We then end up becoming bitter and unhappy. “Burying our talents” is another word for selfishness. The more selfish we are, the more we feel insecure and insignificant, and we indulge in self-pity. But Jesus reminds us that we should never feel insignificant, for we are all precious in the eyes of God.
PRAYER – Lord God give us the grace to use wisely the talents you’ve given to us and not to be slothful with your gifts. Amen!!!