Misuse God's gifts at your own risk!
33rd Sunday in OT

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

The Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25: 14-30) is about a rich man, who, before going on a long journey, entrusted his possessions to three of his servants. The first two servants, wisely investing the money, doubled what they received. The third, however, buried the money in the ground thus it earned nothing. When the master returned and made an accounting, he rewarded the first two servants and punished the third. The parable ends with Jesus saying: "To everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

In the parable, God is portrayed before us as a businessman with a gambler's instincts. He gives us different "amounts," and expects us to use them wisely. In the natural level, as early as when we were in our mother's womb, God has already implanted natural inclinations or talents in us which we need to develop later. In the spiritual level, the seed of divine life, of faith, was planted in us at our baptism which we must daily nourish.

By entrusting us with these "amounts," gifts really, God takes a big risk. He just hopes that we catch His enterprising attitude. He is telling us in effect, "No risk, no gain." But how we make use of these gifts is ours to make, not His.

The parable focuses on our commitment as Christians in the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth with the use of God's gifts. In God's plan, this is also the best way to prepare ourselves for our final meeting with Jesus when as Judge He will ask us for an accounting of His gifts.

That God will be absent for a long time is part of His plan. In asking us during His absence to do our share in bringing about the growth of His Kingdom by using the gifts He entrusted to us, He shows that He trusts and respect us, that He treats us as responsible persons.

The settling of accounts upon the master's return is the core of the message of the parable. The master, God, was happy with the performance of the first two servants and rewarded them accordingly: "Come, share your master's joy." Their reward was the "happiness of the Master" Himself, namely, His own Kingdom.

The third servant, however, had fatally misjudged God his Master. Instead of considering Him as a faithful and fair business partner, he feared Him as a fierce and exacting master, "harvesting where he did not plant and gathering where he did not scatter." From this fear was born the fear of failure which led him even to refuse to try to succeed. This fear, coupled with his distrust of his own abilities, paralyzed him from taking any action for God's Kingdom. This is what "burying the money in the ground" meant. In the end, God said of him, "Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

There are so many things wrong with the world. Some people have proclaimed God "dead" because of the evil they see all around them. People rob, hurt and kill each other. Because of greed, some people are deep in dishonest practices and graft and corruption. Others use their talents to produce pornographic publications and movies. All for only one objective -- to fatten their wallets. Those of us who oppose and do something against these evils, that is, "invest" the Lord's money wisely, are labeled as "old fashioned" or accused of holding on to "obsolete" or "conservative" values. They tell us that times have changed and the prevailing ethos is "Make hay while the sun is out." Faced with all this, the temptation to give up doing good is indeed great.

But God expects a lot from us. In fact, He has entrusted to us the building up of His Kingdom while He is "on a journey." He wants us to make use of our talents in this great enterprise. And as long as we do our share to the best of our ability, He will make sure that it is brought to completion.

If there is one lesson that the parable teaches us, it is this: We have to use our talents to make the world a better place to live in. How? By carrying out in our lives and proclaiming with our lips the values of God's Kingdom.

So what have we done with God's gifts to us? Like the first two servants, have we made them sprout, grow and bear fruits? Or like the third servant, have we buried them in the ground and therefore prevented them to grow, much less, to bear fruits?

The choice for us is clear: We either make good use of what God has entrusted to us or not. If we do, then we become like the first two servants and be rewarded with the "master's joy." If we do not, then what the master said of the third servant will also be said of us, "Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."