The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 19, 2017
Provers 31, 1-13, 19-20, 30-31 + Psalm 128 + 1 Thessalonians 5, 1-6 + Matthew 25, 14-30
This is a sad story even if you look at it from the viewpoint of the two who are praised by the master. I think the sadness comes from the lingering image of a God who still is judged by some to be demanding, fierce, and angry. The consequence of what the third man chooses to do deprives the whole scene and the whole world, for that matter, of the good he could have done with what he was given. It isn’t just a private matter of what each one does with what each one is given, there is a collective sense of goodness and joy that is lost because one of them is afraid.
In a moment of formation for his disciples, Jesus proposes that doing what God does the way God does things is the heart of discipleship. Servants who imitate his way of working get caught up in his way of living. The trouble with that third servant is that he failed to do what the master wanted. The master could just as easily have buried the money, but he didn’t. He took a risk with the hope that his servants would follow his example. One of them was too afraid of failure to do anything which is hardly the way the master lives. He handed his fortune over to his servants so that they could keep his business going. Those who did so not only increased the master’s fortune, but they became more like him as they did his work and carried on his mission. When the master returned, he did not look at the amounts, but rather at the two who had done his work.
As Matthew’s Gospel is quickly moving toward the passion of Christ and the time when Christ hands over to us his work and his mission we would be wise to carefully look at how we have managed the gifts entrusted to us. This church through which the generous, loving, and gracious God is still revealed is ours to build up. Fear does not become us. Bold action, courageous witness to faith, and a desire to share the light of Christ and a place at this table is what is expected of us. As Jesus reached out to those on the margins of society, to those others avoided, and to those who had lost hope, we act as the master has acted to make sure no one is left out or left alone.
Being afraid to invite someone to prayer, to Mass, or to discover the healing peace of forgiveness makes us like that third servant, and it does nothing to further the work of Jesus that has been entrusted to us.
We are disciples of Jesus Christ. His mission and his work have been entrusted to us. Laziness is not compatible with discipleship. Excuses for doing nothing will never be accepted. It will be better to have done the wrong thing than to have done nothing. He will return to measure what we have done and how well we have been faithful to his mission. We do not know when because he has given us no timetable, but he has given us many possibilities.