NOVEMBER 18, 2009: 2 MAC 7:20-31; LUKE 19: 11-28

 

This parable that our Lord constructed and spoke to his followers is familiar to all of us. It suffices to hear it but once for it to be remembered and its principal meaning to be grasped. We understand at a first hearing that Jesus is pointing out that each of us who would be his disciple has been entrusted with the gift of life. Given freely by the heavenly Father in various measure our existence comports a serious responsibility that we cannot evade without great and irreparable harm to our self. Jesus clearly accepts as a fact of reality that lifeís gifts are bestowed on us in widely different forms. Some are endowed more highly with favors than others. In the parable, the first recipient is given double what is entrusted to the second, and ten times more than the third. The talents each is given symbolize the blessings offered to eachógifts of intelligence, good family, education, health, longevity, and wealth among others. Whether we are among the more endowed or the lesser, yet of each is required that the whole is employed to good purpose. Relatively limited resources provide no excuse for remaining aloof from the risks associated with engagement in the give and take of our human condition in this changing world. Each is required not only to participate in the business of life, but to engage all that he or she has been entrusted with. Implied by our Lordís story is that whatever talents we dispose of are ours only on loan, as it were. We are to answer for all we have been given to the King who by the gift has made us answerable to Him at the time when he comes to require an account.

 

The lesson of this parable is fundamental to our self-concept. We are not altogether masters of our life, nor do we possess our very self independently. We belong in a radical way to another. We did not choose to come into the world; we were not consulted. We receive life and our very self as a trust that we are to administer, as it were, and for which we are to answer at the end. Thus the teaching of this parable links to the opening page of the Bible where it is revealed to us that we are made only by God but also for God. Being created in his image and likeness, we are what and who we are only in relation to our Creator and Sustainer. The existence given us is for the sake of cultivating this likeness until it resembles the image to the point where we can be united with the One who is the pattern after which we have been fashioned.

 

This way of understanding our condition bears upon the whole of our existence in all its dimensions and activities in this world. Todayís parable underlines one aspect of this larger doctrine of our fulfillment in union with God that gives orientation and meaning to all our life. We are to use the opportunities afforded us by our situation in the world of time in such a manner that our efforts contribute to the enhancement of our likeness to God our Father. We can hope to manage such a directedness in the engagement with the absorbing details of everyday life only by regularly renewing our lively awareness of the Lordís presence to us in contemplative prayer. He accompanies those who look to him in trust, beckoning us on the way that leads to eternal life. Here at this Eucharist we acknowledge our need for his continuing presence and thank him with grateful hears for all he has done so as to provide us with the grace of his Spirit, and even now giving us assurance of communion with him in his eternal glory.&


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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