Gospel Commentary by Fr. Joseph Rampino | Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Bring Forward What is Given
This week continues the Church’s November meditations on the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, wherein Christ offers to the crowds several parables and images of the final judgement. Last week, Christ told us how necessary it is to provide for our eternity by carrying enough fuel for our faith, that we might have what we need to go meet him at the end of time.
This week, He tells the parable of the talents, in which the master, who represents Christ, gives different sums of wealth to his servants, which they are to bring out into the world and increase. The first two servants follow the master’s command, double what they have been given, and are told to enter into their master’s joy. The third and last servant, on the other hand, does not follow the command, gains nothing further than what he was given, and receives condemnation.
While the first two servants make easy sense to us—they complete the task assigned and receive the reward—the last servant is a little more of a mystery. Though this servant complains to his master that he hid the talent out of fear, we notice that the master does not condemn him for fear. He condemns the servant for wickedness, laziness, and inaction. The last servant is not wicked because he is afraid of failure or afraid of risk. The master even says to him that this fearful servant could have taken a low risk route, putting the money in a bank, and at least have had something to show for it. So what is his real fault?
The ancient Christians in their commentaries on this passage tell us that the last servant, though he may had had some fear of trading with the talent he had been given, uses the excuse of fear to cover up his lack of desire to do the master’s will. Thus the servant is not only fearful and lazy, but above all else, prideful and dishonest. We notice that he does not even admit his fault and ask forgiveness from the master, but rather justifies himself and accuses the master of being too demanding. If he had been truly fearful, and asked for mercy, we can be sure that the master would have forgiven him.
So also for us. We ought not to fear to bring our faith, the great treasure God has given us, out into the open and speak of it clearly. The more we have received from God, the more we can give, and God can, through us, enrich a great multitude. It also does not matter for us how much God has given us, so long as we offer it with an honest and generous heart. Even if we fail in sharing our faith and its fruits out in the world, even if we are overcome with fear at times, we can at least humble ourselves before God and ask for mercy. The one thing we must not do, if we wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, is hide our hearts from God, justifying ourselves and blaming the Lord for the difficulties of a life of faith.
The Lord is indeed a kind master, and more than a master, a father, a brother, and a friend. He only asks great things in order to prepare our souls to receive the great gift of His love. Let’s expand our hearts in courage this week to meet His commands, and share what we have received from Him.