Profitable or Unprofitable

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Come and See 68
Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20,30-31
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
Mt 25: 14-30

We come to the end of the liturgical year of 2011. In chapter 24 and 25 in the Gospel according to Mathew, there are three parables that remind us of the coming of Christ: The parable of the faithful and evil servants (Mt 24:45-51), the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Mt 24:1-13), and the parable of the profitable and unprofitable servants or the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30). We will read it on Sunday 33rd of Ordinary Time, the last Sunday before the feast of Christ the King.

The parable of the talents is found in the Synoptic (Mt 25:14, Mk 13: 34, and Lk 19:12-13). The theme of the parable shows that a master, before going far away, calls his servants to entrust them with his property and allow them to benefit from it. Undoubtedly, Christ is the Master who went to heaven. Christians are servants being given talents and asked them to produce more talents. Two good servants make more talents, and they receive the reward; the other one does not invest his talents anywhere and he is punished. The character of the good servants is faithfulness to work with all their talents. They respect their Master though he is not with them. They work for their Master although He does not watch over them. They are faithful to fulfill their small duties with patience and humility. By fulfilling their duties with their heart, they know and demonstrate they are servants who belong to the Master; their lives are not for themselves, but for their Master. How about the other servant who buries his talent?

Their lives are not for themselves, but for their Master.

* * *

One of the best stories told at a missionary conference in Shanghai was of a man who said he was afraid he would be of no use in the world because he had only one talent. “Oh, that need not discourage you,” said his pastor. “What is your talent?” “The talent of criticism.” “Well, I recommend you,” said his pastor, “to do with it what the man of one talent did with his. Criticism may be useful when mixed with other talents, but those whose only activity is to criticize the workers could be buried, talent and all.”[1]

* * *

The character of the unfaithful servant is criticism. First, he criticizes his Master that he receives less talent than the other ones. He criticizes that his Master treats him unfairly. Next, he criticizes his friends because they have more talents. He becomes envious of their success and happiness. Finally, he criticizes and blames himself; he does not want to accept his identity, a servant of his Master. Criticism leads people to bury their talent to also bury others’ as well.

Lord, heal us and give us strength to be faithful to you in small daily duties.

[1] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

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