33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Trust vs. Mistrust!
Christopher Columbus trusted his maps and calculations, considered the risks, and sailed off to India, only to encounter the “new world.” Ferdinand Magellan trusted his charts and maps on the most current information then available and boldly circumnavigated the globe. A few centuries later, in their search for a Northwest Passage, Lewis and Clark set off and crossed the entire North American continent and explored the nation. All these explorers had at least one thing in common. They all trusted their momentous journeys on maps that were mostly inaccurate and hopelessly flawed. Yet each of these adventurers went ahead, accepted the risks, plunged into unknown territories, and changed the world. Trust is an essential element in the process of taking risks in life.
Today’s Gospel, according to Matthew 25: 14-30, presents the parable of the talents. A rich man before he set out on a journey distributed to his servants, five talents to one, two talents to another, and one talent to the third one to do business. On his arrival, he learned that the one who had five made another five more; the one who had two made another two; but the one who had one made nothing more instead buried his talents, knowing that his master was a demanding person harvesting where he did not plant and gathering where he did not scatter. Here this particular servant mistrusted his master; therefore, he was afraid to do business with the talents given to him instead, buried them. Thus, he made his master upset and mad, and the master took away what was given to him. Whereas the other two servants trusted the master and did business with their talents, and thereby made their master happy and consequently received more.
All the readings of today suggest that we should be diligent, industrious, loyal, and faithful regarding the use of God-given gifts and talents. This Parable is set in the last of Jesus’ five great discourses, focusing on His eschatological teachings. The three parables in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, the wise and foolish virgins, the talents, and the last judgment are about the end of times, the end of the world, and the end of our lives. This Gospel is challenging us to ask the questions: “Am I using my talents and gifts primarily to serve God? Am I doing everything I can to carry out God’s will?” The Parable, dear sisters and brothers, invites us to do something positive, constructive, and life-affirming with our talents here and now.
We find among us today risk-takers, and caretakers. The explorers mentioned above and two of the servants mentioned in the Gospel are risk-takers, and therefore they were able to make a difference in their lives and that of the world. But the servant who received one talent was just a caretaker, who took care of the talent given to him and could not make any difference anywhere in anyone’s life. Are you a risk-taker or a caretaker of God’s talents in your life and that of your family and community? God has bestowed immeasurable gifts and talents in our lives, and He expects us to be risk-takers with those gifts and talents. Therefore, we need to invest them in the proper place, proper time, and proper manner, instead of burying them in the ground. God never creates just junk, but He hides pearls of precious value in those apparent junks. Sometimes we need to hunt for the talents beyond the junk.
Trust versus mistrust is an attitude that we all develop in our infancy. According to a famous German-American psychologist, Erick Erikson, it is the first of the eight stages of psychosocial development of a human person. This stage begins at birth and lasts until around 18 months.
According to Erikson, it is the most critical period of a child’s life, as it shapes their view of the world and their overall personality. The attitudes and perspectives about life, the world, and God is being shaped based on the experiences of trust and mistrust at this particular stage of life. First and foremost, we all need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and talents, as two of those servants did by trusting their master. But the third servant avoided risk-taking and showed too much caution with his talent, and he paid the price for it when his master arrived.
Let us remember dear brothers and sisters that we are not called just to “believe” that Jesus is the Lord and Savior, instead called to carry on His mission of love and forgiveness, using the physical and spiritual gifts we have received from God. We are not meant to be caretakers only, but risk-takers as well for the Lord. God, Himself risked everything, in the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son, for the sake of our salvation. He expects us to do more than clinging to safety and security. Today, Jesus is encouraging us His followers not to be afraid, but to trust Him and seek His help in using our talents for the glory of God and the salvation of our brothers and sisters around us. May God bless us all! Wishing you all a blessed weekend!
Fr. Tomy Joseph Puliyanampattayil, MSFS
(Fr. T J. Puliyan, MSFS)