THEME: LIVE BY FAITH AND NOT BY FEAR
The first reading from the book of Proverbs, (Prov. 31:10-13. 19-20. 30-31), warned us that we must not be carried away by ephemeral things. It stated that, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman who is wise is the one to praise. Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.” Hence, the beauty of a good wife does not depend on her physical beauty alone which is transient, but in the beauty of her soul and spirit; in her acts of care, kindness and in her being wise and industrious.
These acts of wisdom and industriousness link the first reading to this Sunday’s Gospel passage, (Matt 25:14-30). Today’s Gospel like the Gospel of the previous Sunday presents us with a scene at the last judgement. In last week’s Gospel, the five virgins who were wise and took extra flasks of oil were rewarded by the bridegroom by being allowed entrance to the wedding party which was symbolic of heaven, whereas the foolish ones who presumed that everything will be okay without adequately playing their own part, missed out.
The Gospel of today presents us with a generous king who entrusted some of his wealth to three of his servants. To one servant, he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to the third, one talent. A talent is an equivalent of fifteen years’ worth of income. The servants who were given five and two talents were industrious and willing to take risks because they lived by faith. They invested the money they were given and made profits. On the return of the king, these two servants were able to return the kings money with interest, whereas the third servant who was ruled by fear rather than faith was afraid to take risks. He did not invest the money and hence returned the king’s money with no interest. The industrious servants were rewarded by the king by being called “good and faithful servant” and being invited by the king to join in his happiness. The lazy servant lost everything and was excluded from joining in his master’s happiness. The king or the master in the above parable is God.
Central to the message of today’s Gospel is not the successful business acumen of the first two servants, or the lack of it in the third servant, but our willingness to allow the grace of God in us to be fruitful as St Paul said, “the grace of God in me has not been fruitless”, (1Cor 15:10). It is our willingness to give God a chance in our lives; to ensure that one’s life is motivated by faith and not by fear. Today’s parable did not inform us about some setbacks the first two servants may have had on their way to being successful business tycoons. So, the emphasis is not on being successful but on making genuine efforts.
No one is gift-less. No doubt, some people may have more gifted than others. There are those that may be described as ‘all-rounders’. Some children are referred to as exceptional children and schools have been established for exceptionally gifted children. However, it is not the number of gifts that you possess that is the true measure of how happy you are or how successful you will be. True happiness comes from accepting ourselves for whom we are before God and living by faith and not by fear. Living by faith is also a sign of being wise (first reading). Faith allows us to take risks and disposes us to dust-off disappointments as successful fishermen, farmers and business magnets do. It frees us to reach out to the needy and to be the doers of the Word! If we live by faith and not by fear then we are assured of hearing from Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp