Weekly Gospel Reflection - 13 November 2011
Matthew 25:14-30 (CEB): “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.
“After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
“The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. o I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’
“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. Therefore take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness.’
“People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.
The story that Jesus tells here really bothers a lot of people. They don’t like to think that God is the ‘Master’ in the story. But I think God is the Master of the story. Neither the story nor some of the elements are to be taken literally. The point of the story is the same as the last one. Jesus is not talking to us about us ‘wasting our talents’ as some preachers have stated. The point of the story is to show what will happen to the first century religious opposition. The Jewish people that rejected what God was doing through the life of Jesus would be held responsible for their actions and intentions. In Luke’s account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem, we have:
As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God” (Luke 19.41-44 CEB).
That is what these stories are about. He told them to his disciples when they asked him to elaborate on his proclamation about the destruction of the Temple (Matthew 24). And, in true form as a Prophet in the Jewish Tradition, Jesus attributes this coming destruction as God’s judgment upon them. Whether we think God works this way or not is not important. Again, these stories aren’t directed to us. They are not about us. In much the same St Paul wrote that the Jewish Scriptures were written for them (1Corinthians 10.11 CEB), these New Testament stories were written for us.
And, historically speaking, justice was meted out during the war of the Jews with the Romans. On more than one occasion, both the Romans and the witness testimony indicated that what happened during that war was the result of God’s justice against that generation of the Jewish nation.
What can we take from this? Considering that this story is about what the Realm of God is like, I’d say that we can say God’s Realm is about justice. It’s about what is done in this Realm and matters (see 1Corinthians 3.12-15 CEB; cf. 1Corinthians 15.58 CEB). It’s about rescuing the marginalized, the outcast, and the persecuted from the powers that continue to rebel against God and the ways of God.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC