for Sunday, November 15, 2020
Last Sunday and this Sunday we heard two parables from the first part of the Twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Last Sunday the parable was the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, five wise and five foolish. This Sunday we have the parable of the Talents. This is the parable of the three men who were called upon to invest money, or talents. Next Sunday, we will have the remainder of the Twenty-fifth chapter, the parable of the sheep and goats.
Just as last Sunday's Gospel was really not about bridesmaids but about the proper use of time to prepare for the Lord, this Sunday's Gospel is really not about investing money but is also about preparing for the Lord to come, this time, to seek a reckoning. It might seem strange that those entrusted with a number of talents should be expected to return a greater number to the Lord, and the one man who protected the money given to him would be admonished. It really is not strange if we consider that the parable isn't about money after all. It is about the Word of God and about Grace. The man who is given five talents is a man who has received a great deal of Grace. He is a man who has been nurtured by the Word of God from his first days. Perhaps for Matthew he represents those who were first Jewish and then became Christian. They had the benefit of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures. Or maybe he represents those who had a first-hand encounter with one of the apostles, or perhaps with Jesus Himself. And perhaps the man who received the two talents represented someone who came from a family not acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures, and therefore a gentile who did not enjoy the same amount of Grace that was given to the first man. Maybe he was from a second generation of Christians, and only heard stories about Jesus and the apostles. He had less to work with then the first man, but he was determined to spread the faith the best he could. And perhaps the man who received the one talent represents those who had heard about Christ but chose to resist the Gospel and the spread of the Word of God. He had nothing to show for the grace that he received. He, in fact, had rejected this grace, buried it. It was taken from him, and he was thrown out of the light into the darkness.
The parable demands that we consider the grace that we have received and how well we are using this grace to spread the Kingdom of God.
Most of us are cradle Catholics. We received the Grace of God from our infancy. We were brought up in Catholic homes. We have been given the opportunity to grow in our faith throughout our lives. For most of you there were and are the graced moments of marriage, and children being born, and their receiving the sacraments. For those of us in religious life or the priesthood, there are other graced moments. There are the graced moments of religious profession and ordination to the diaconate and priesthood. Perhaps more important, we get to experience the graced moments of witnessing the faith of the people we are called to serve. For all of us there are the graces of the Church year. When we kneel at the manger on Christmas or beneath the cross on Good Friday, when we rejoice in our new life in the Lord on Easter and our reception of the Power that is the Spirit on Pentecost, we enter into times of profound prayer and receive Grace after Grace.
What do we do with the Grace we have received? That is the question that the Gospel demands we consider. That is the question that we will have to answer when we come before the Lord at the end of time or at the end of our own personal time. How well have we lived our faith? Is the Kingdom of God stronger on earth because of us, or have we squandered the grace we have received and done little or nothing to enrich the world with the Presence of the Word Become Flesh?
Back at the beginning of his pontificate when Pope Francis asked, "Who am I to judge?" He was not making a comment on any particular group of people. He was simply stating that he was a man called to respond to the grace he had received and not in a position to comment on how others have responded to the grace they have received. We also do not have the right to judge how others have responded to the Grace they have received. We do not know what Graces they have receive, nor do we know anything that they have experienced in life.
My deepest concern, and my deepest regret, are both the same. That is: how many times have I not taken advantage of all the Lord has given me? How often have I allowed His Grace to slip through my fingers like sand? How many people would have come closer to God if I had only invested what I was given better?
I am sure you all have the same concern. At least you should. How much better would others have become if you, and I, were more concerned with spreading the love of the Lord than we were with returning insult for insult and hurt for hurt?
The Parable of the Talents can be quite frightening. Perhaps, that is why the Gospel of Matthew places the story of the sheep and the goats immediately after this parable. Remember the sheep. They are pleasantly surprised when the Son of Man tells them to come and inherit the Kingdom the Father has prepared for them from the foundation of the world. He said to them, "I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me." When they asked Him "When did we see you hungry or thirsty, or naked, or a stranger or ill or in prison?" he told them that as often as they did this for the least of his people they did it for him. The sheep didn't realize that they had invested the grace they had received by being gracious to others who needed help.
God sees the times that we have reached out to others. He sees the return of his investment in our own works of charity.
We need to remember 1 Peter 4:8. "Love covers a multitude of sins."
At the end of the Church year, we are told to consider the end of time, including the end of our own time. We are reminded that the end has not yet come. There is still time, time to take advantage of a bull market of grace. We can and we must reach out to others. We can use the grace we have received well. There is still time, plenty of time, to invest wisely.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Proverbs 31.10-13, 16-18, 20, 26, 28-31++
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5.1-6
Gospel: Matthew 25.14-30
This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: