33rd Week of Extraordinary Time
Today’s gospel is one in a series of parables assembled by Mathew to help Christ-communities prepare for the coming Jesus. The famed “last judgement” is the final one and follows today’s story in the Book of Matthew. We’ll hear that one next Saturday.
Last week, we heard the story about the 5 attendants who prepared for the coming of a bridal party and the 5 attendants who didn’t. And we just heard about those workers who were ready for the arrival of the landowner, but weren’t satisfactorily prepared according to his expectations. 2 were rewarded and 1 wasn’t.
Somewhere, someone is talking about how, in today’s parable, how Jesus supported the taking from the poor (the person with the one talent who didn’t handle it well enough to increase it) and giving to the rich (the person who started with 5 talents, doubled them, and was given the one from the poor person). To some people, that sounds like a reasonable way to act but – to others, including ourselves – it doesn’t feel right.
Well, as one writer put it, “Jesus did not live in a capitalist system but one of limited goods,” a fixed supply game.” The rich got there, largely by taking from the poor, exploiting them. And for that reason, the rich were not favored in the society of the time…a tax collector for example. So, in Matthew’s communities, the good persons were likely to be the poorest.
In today’s gospel, as everyone has figured out, the landowner who is known to be surely coming is the “kindom.” The workers who are preparing for his arrival are “ourselves.” The talents that we use are “the graces that God has given us.” The task is to – as Jack Duffy would loudly sing – prepare the way of our God. And everyone has a role: to use those graces – as different and uneven as they may have been given to each of us. We believe that God, as the landowner in today’s gospel, distributed them to us “according to each one’s ability.”
So, in light of that, we may ask ourselves “how and to what extent am I using my gifts to make smooth the “coming of the kindom” for Our Father and Mother and ourselves. Or to phrase it a bit differently, but not as well as Sally did in one of her homilies, when we look at ourselves and our actions in relationship to the “coming of the kindom,” can we consider them as doing our part in ‘moving it along’ or, possibly, sometimes ‘slowing it down’? How, in any case, are we using our gifts, our talents, to the gospel standard of “to each one’s abilities.”