My dear friends in Christ, it is good we can connect around the Word of God. The Gospel passage for today from our Revised Common Lectionary leads us to another one of those controversial stories Jesus told to try to get us to understand what the Kingdom of God is. Let us start as always by reading it.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew the 25th chapter (14-30)
Glory to you, oh Lord.
““For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to you, oh Christ!
Grace and peace are yours from God, our Father, and from his Son our Lord. Amen.
I don’t have a doubt that William Barclay was one of the great biblical scholars of the twentieth century. He was a very faithful and devout teacher, and with a God-given ability to communicate in the simple language of the regular people, Barclay developed a reputation as something of a theological liberal. In his Spiritual Biography he wrote that one day he lost his daughter and son-in-law in a tragic boating accident. They had been sailing off the coast of Northern Ireland when a sudden storm came up and drowned both of them. After the funeral, Barclay received an anonymous letter from a woman who called herself a Christian. “I know why God killed your daughter,” she wrote, “It was to save her from being corrupted by your heresies.” Barclay couldn’t reply to the letter because the woman hadn’t signed her name. But he once remarked that if he could have answered, he would have said, “If that is the kind of God you believe in, then your God is what I consider the devil. The day my daughter was lost at sea, there was sorrow in the heart of God.”
In the parable of Jesus that I just read, depending on who you interpret the wealthy merchant is, you will interpret the learnings differently. Either he is a generous teacher, or a despot oppressor.
We have seen and heard lots of name calling during the election season from both sides. It has been sad. Families either split apart or avoid being together just to keep the peace. All because of how we perceive and understand how and who the other candidate is. In Jesus’ story, we could perceive the merchant as a greedy capitalist; he had slaves and he dealt charging interest. The listeners of that time knew that was not a good Jewish practice. It was an oppressive measure. Then, you might see the last slave as the one willingly refusing to participate in such a vile act, and you may interpret the outer darkness the place to be, so your light might shine there, and that is your good news.
If we look at it through the eyes of the ones being creative hard workers, receiving a just reward, you may perceive the merchant as a generous, extravagant, trusting person giving more than fair compensation. But perhaps the punishment may seem too harsh for the third slave. At any case, where is the good news here? We could focus on the phrase: “Enter into the joy of your Master.” If so, we could see how Jesus always calls us to a joyful time with him. At the gathering with the saints, at the table of the Lord, at the times of celebration, and at the times of comfort and encouragement. Obviously, we could see the connection with the end of times, and the entering into the Great Wedding Banquet in glory for all eternity.
There is good news, there are duties we can accomplish, not necessary because we have to, but because as disciples of Christ, that’s what we do. There is good news all over. Amen.
Let us pray,
Merciful God, we come before you in gratitude. You have given us all we need to be your disciples. You have given us love to share in acts of compassion, in respectful accompaniment, and in strength to do them. We pray for unity amidst our polarization. Peace in conflictive times. And protection in times of this pandemic. We commend ourselves again into your hands, through Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God now and forever. Amen.
As always, thank you for giving me the chance of meditate on the good news of Christ with you. Until next time, stay with God’s blessing. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine on you with grace and mercy. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen