November 16, 2014
ORDINARY 33 (A)
Come, share your master’s joy. – Mt. 25: 21
This is part of Jesus’ “other” Sermon on the Mount – on the Mount of Olives just before His passion. The disciples were expectant. They had seen & experienced marvels beyond their wildest dreams in His company, & they were looking forward to His triumph, to the revelation of His glory, & to the culmination of everything in the near future. Instead, Jesus gives them a series of parables & tries to tell them that it’s not like they think. In this one, He’s about to depart on a long journey; but they will not be left without a job to do & the wherewithal to do it. Indeed, each will be give grace according to their ability. What they do with it is going to be up to them.
First, there are those who do their work & make a profit. It could not have been with thought of reward, for the master made no such promise. The money was not theirs & they would not be able to claim any of the profits for themselves. All would go toward the building of the master’s Kingdom – He was financing it (as it were) through their work. Yet they did go to work. Why? Because they were faithful. They were counting on His faithfulness: “Our master, whom we know, will not leave us in the lurch.” So they would be faithful to Him.
But it is precisely those who act out of loyalty & faith & ask nothing for themselves that the master responds with princely generosity. God never appeals to our self-interest [Beware of those who say, “God will reward you if…”]. Indeed, it may cost us a great deal – not just our possessions, but where it really hurts: our favorite prejudices, our self-image, our life. The important thing is that the Lord’s commission be carried out for His advancement. It is not until we expend ourselves in His service that we begin to realize that it IS rewarding, that there are altogether new forms of happiness which He knows how to bestow. Best of all, we will be companions of the King, seeing & hearing Him like a brother, no longer through a glass darkly but face to face.
But there is still the third servant – a typical observer who sees & analyzes everything from outside. He may be a simple person who operates mainly out of fear. Such a person sees God as a stern judge who will zap you if you get out of line, & Who is preoccupied with the least offense. Such a view is highly negative & precludes any real growth.
More common today, perhaps, is the one who says that God is hard & unjust. He wants me to reap faith, but what does He give me to go on? What does He give me that anything like faith should be able to grow in me? If He would only give me some proof of the Spirit & His power, then He would get my faith.
A bit inconsistently, though, such a person IS willing to preserve what he/she has received, to save it. This person would admit that one must recognize a higher being, that God has a legitimate place in life. We can’t get along without religion, & besides, what if they are right? Better keep some insurance just in case. So I’ll submit to a Christian wedding, get my kids confirmed, try to act like a Christian – in short, bury my faith & conserve it.
The problem with this is that it does not take God seriously, not even seriously enough to reject Him. It gets us nowhere, because only those who take God seriously ever get to know Him. Taking God seriously means taking Him at His word & giving Him a chance to work on us. We can never receive anything with closed fists or drooping hands. It is only when we listen that God speaks, when we obey that He acts.
So let us give Him a chance to really speak to us. “He who comes to me will not be cast out,” says our Lord. That’s His word & He died for it. That’s how seriously He takes us. There is an old saying, “Life is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to Him.” AMEN!