Accounting Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
33rd Sunday in OrdinaryTime (A)
November 13, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

We are still on the theme of the last things as we approach the end of the church's calendar year. That the Lord will come again is a truth we proclaim after the consecratory prayers, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." Last Sunday, in the story of the ten maidens, we were counseled about readiness for the Lord's coming. This Sunday, we are told another parable, more known as the parable of the talents. While we look forward to the Lord's second coming, as judge and king of the universe, we are advised to make responsible use of the gifts, the time, and opportunities for service given to us. We are to wait in an active mode.

In the early years of the Church, St. Paul had to deal with loafers, people who thought that because Christ was coming soon, they didn't have to work anymore. St. Paul had one simple solution. "those who don't work should not eat. (2Thess.3:10)." The in-between- time of waiting for the Lord's return is to be spent in a fruitful manner. Thus, the parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30).

Action starter: Your natural and spiritual gifts are for the Kingdom. Use them or lose them.

In the days of Jesus, it was a practice of people who were about to go on a long journey to entrust their money and possessions to a trusted servant. The trusted servant may make use of the money to engage in some enterprise or he may deposit it with bankers (yes, the banking system was already working at that time, introduced by Phoenician traders). In our story, the servants were left with a sizable amount, to each according to his abilities. A talent is about a thousand dollars. This means that even the servant with one talent had a considerable amount of money to manage. One can understand the timidity of this servant who received one talent. Perhaps it was the first time in his life that he had to take care of such amount. He was fearful. He did not want to take risks. And so he buried the money. When the master returned and accounting was made, the master was mad at this timid action because there was a better one. The money could have been deposited with the bankers. The servant looked for an excuse. He accused the master of being harsh. This made the master doubly mad and he banished the servant from the household.

This is a well-known parable and we can look into this story from a not so common angle. Let us reflect on the attitude of the servants. The last one was fearful. He played it safe. He looked for an excuse. The master commended the other two servants. They took risks. They managed their master's affairs well.

Being safe and comfortable is not high in the Lord's priority of values. He challenged his disciples to take up the cross, to walk the narrow and hard path, to leave possessions and loved ones behind. The affairs of the Kingdom are more important than one's comfort. A faithful disciple and steward gets involved in God's affairs. He is on a mission to announce and to make real God's kingdom of love, justice, peace, and truth. This entails inconveniences and risk-taking.

Almost twenty years ago, I was assigned in a parish. Some lay men and women were part of the parish core group. They were catechists, lecturers, chapel leaders, and community organizers. I meet them today, older but still actively participating in community and parish activities. Their commitment to God's affairs is incessant and consistent.

A leader I used to work with knew he had a terminal illness, yet the last time we met a few months ago, he was still actively engaged in organizing his little community. Suspecting the end was near, he settled his spiritual affairs. He did not wait to be bedridden. He went to the priest, made his confession, and courageously faced death. I'm confident that God was satisfied with the accounting he presented and said to him, "Welcome to the Kingdom."