Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time ­- Year  A
November 15, 2020 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs, California
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 | Psalm 128:1-5
I Thessalonians 5:1-6 | Matthew 25:14-30

As we come closer to the end of this liturgical year A, we are reminded to remain dedicated and faithful servants of God as Advent approaches.

Today, Jesus shares another Parable with us, The Parable of the Talents.

Actually, this one is my least favorite of all of Jesus’ Parables and as a result, Fr. David always seems to manage to have me preaching about it.

Parables, as you may recall, are open-ended stories; they are not explanations of doctrine but have inner truths that you need to uncover.  Jesus taught in this way in order to get us all to think for ourselves and develop our own unique set of values and morals.

Our first reading today is from Proverbs and describes the ideal, virtuous wife as being spiritual, kind, hard-working, compassionate, loving and someone who puts God and others before herself.

In our second reading from 1 Thessalonians, Paul encourages us to live our lives with eternity’s values in mind.  We should always be mentally alert as we await Jesus.

The authors of the Gospels are anonymous.  Today’s Gospel was written from the perspective of  Matthew, the tax collector.   Matthew was a businessman, as is the main character in this parable.

It begins, “A man going on a journey called in his servants.”

Now, in those days, the real word here is “slaves” since servants were slaves at that period of time.  But “servants” is more politically correct today, so let’s use that word instead since it sounds better.

To continue, “the man entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents.”

In those days, talent meant money and one talent would have been worth about $1,000 US dollars, so five talents is a considerable amount of money.

Okay, so the businessman gives $5,000 to the clever servant, the ordinary, average servant was given $2,000, and the servant who is learning disabled or mentally challenged was given $1,000.

Or, as the parable states, “to each according to his ability.”

Keep in mind:  “Talent” in this parable means money.  It doesn’t mean abilities.  A talent is a gold or silver coin.

So now the businessman goes away.  He doesn’t tell his servants to go out and make money, he just goes away.

After a significant period of time, probably a few years, he returns.

Why do you suppose he spent so much time away from home?

Generally speaking, rich men in those days would go off to a foreign country when something was going to happen that was threatening to them, such as an army invasion or political unrest.  The rich men would do this since they didn’t want anyone to get all of their money.

So let’s just say the businessman takes the rest of his money and runs off to a foreign country for asylum.

Then the story continues, “Immediately, the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five.”

Obviously, this servant is very clever.  So why does he make five more talents in one week and then sit around for about three years waiting for the businessman to return and not make anymore?

Do you believe that?  Of course not!

The second servant does the same.  He makes two talents in one week and not any more for about three years.

But the third servant, the learning disabled, mentally challenged servant, who had received only one talent “went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his masters money.”

He was afraid and didn’t know what to do.  But he was smart enough to know that if he lost the money, the businessman would come back and expect repayment.

This servant didn’t steal the businessman’s money.  He’s honest!  And the only way he knows to keep the money safe is to bury it.

Why is this important?

–because he could have stolen the money

–because he could have spent it

–because he could have run away with it

But he didn’t!

The story continues…”After a long time, the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.”

When he discovers the clever servant made five additional talents, the Master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When the ordinary servant shows him that he made two talents, he says again, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Notice that the main concern here is money, money, money.  He didn’t say, “Well done, good and faithful servant because you love and care for me.”  No, it’s because the servants made him money.

But then, the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, “Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter.”

Who does that?—harvesting where he doesn’t plant; gathering where he did not scatter?

It tells us that this man is not to be trusted.

And the third, learning disabled,  mentally challenged servant said, “So I was afraid.”

Rightly so!!!  He should be afraid!

What if this poor servant had a wife and kids to support and couldn’t afford to lose the money?

What would the Master have done to him if he had lost the money?

The Master states, “You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?  Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?”

“Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For 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. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

So now, the learning disabled,  mentally challenged servant is fired!

It’s up to you to determine what Jesus wants you to learn from this story. Once you read this story again and again and again, the true meaning will come to you.

To Jesus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re making money or losing money.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re an intellectual genius or mentally challenged. The only thing that matters is the righteous man.  He won’t steal.  He won’t cheat.  He won’t lie.

The only talent important to Jesus is the individual value of each one of us who embodies love, hope, care and understanding.

Jesus expects us to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as ourselves:  the way Jesus loves us.

Here are some things we should all do now to follow what Jesus wants us to do:

–Worry Less. Constant worrying causes us to stray farther from God.  By focusing only on our problems, we let fear overrule our lives.  Jesus provides us with what it takes to overcome obstacles in our lives.  Trust in the Lord.

–Spread the Word of God. Do not be afraid to share your faith with others, for fear of backlash or criticism.  Remember that Jesus faced disbelievers throughout His entire life.  Live your life by showing others what it means to love, not hate.

–Be Yourself. When you were born, God had an amazing plan for you.  He wants you to follow His plan and become the beautiful spirit He intended you to be.

–Have Gratitude. Choose an attitude of thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation no matter the circumstances.  Even the smallest things are blessings from God.

–Do What Is Right. Jesus wants us all to have the courage to stand up for what is right.  All people matter.  Black lives matter.  When we learn this, we will be more like Jesus.

–Give Back to Others. Jesus came to earth to help humanity.  We should all serve others and Jesus by volunteering, donating to the poor, and respecting all people.

–Pray. Jesus never stopped praying.  In all of the Gospels, there are passages that mention Jesus going off by Himself to pray.  By praying you are creating an unbreakable bond with Jesus.

–Accept Jesus as Our Savior. Jesus wants us all to apologize and seek forgiveness for all our sins.  By doing so, we ask for His redemption and are choosing eternal life.  When we do this, we accept Jesus as our Savior.