33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Sunday 19th November 2017)
To read the Gospel of the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, please click here
Faithful in small things – (Matthew 25:14 – 30)
Like the Parable of the wise and foolish bridemaids last week there is a surprising element to this Sunday’s Gospel. The Master says to his servants to take the talent from the servant who hid it in the ground and to throw him out into the dark where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
What is a little bit challenging about this as well as with the story of the bridesmaids is that there is no second chance. Last week when the foolish bridesmaids wanted to go into the wedding feast the master said “I do not know you”. This week the servant who buries the coin in the ground ends up being thrown out into the darkness.
These are rare moments in the Gospel when we catch glimpse of what exactly is at stake in being a disciple of Christ. We see discipleship is not a passive activity. Being a Catholic is not simply a membership card that we keep in our wallet so that when the day comes we take it out and get access to heaven.
But the question is how do we live out this discipleship? Of course we have plenty of things to do each day. Being Catholic can’t depend on us always attending Church or saying prayers – it’s not practical. We have to sleep or study or work or eat! but we can still live each moment through the lens of our faith. We can be Christian not just in WHAT we are doing but in the WAY we are doing it.
One of the things about this gospel that is a bit surprising is that we might actually identify with the man with one talent. What would WE do if we got one talent from the Master? Would we mind it or invest it? We might feel that he didn’t do a lot wrong and yet he ends up in the darkness! Where would WE end up; what would WE do?
The clue here seems to be in the words the master repeats to the two other servants: “well done, good and faithful servant, you have shown you can be faithful in small things”. The path of discipleship is made up of all sorts of moments. Some big and some small. We would be foolish to think God is only present in the big ones, God is present also in the small ones and in fact God is very concerned about our actions and behaviour in these small moments of our lives.
More than that…. if we stay attentive to the small things then we shouldn’t have to worry about what to do when the big moments come. It will come naturally to us. For example, when we come to the prayer meeting we can feel God is very close to us, he is present, he is listening. We might feel that we are deeply sharing with God at that moment.
And, we can bring this sense of God into the rest of the week too. We can try to keep that sense that God is with us in each moment. Even sometimes the most simple and ordinary moments. In this way when we go to Church or to the prayer meeting we will be more and more in tune with what God’s wants us to do as we keep more and more in touch with him.
Almost without thinking about it we will be acting and living in a way pleasing to God, fruitfully using the gifts he gives us.
It is a hopeful way and not a fearful one. And it is an active way… and a practical one: built up in the small moments.
And so if we follow it – we will not have to fear the Lord as hard man but when the time comes, it will be no surprise that the Lord will say to us “well done good and faithful servant, come and join in your masters happiness”.
Fr. Declan Lohan
To view previous Gospel Reflections, please click here!