Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

I am sitting and watching a cartoon of some pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a meal together in the woods on a sunny but cool day centuries ago, the first Thanksgiving Day.  I am watching the cartoon, and smelling a real turkey, and then I am pulled away from watching the show (“But wait! It’s not over!”) to go eat a beautiful meal with my family.  Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I have this memory, and another one of my third grade teacher pulling together an actual feast (pot luck) where parents brought in corn and stuffing and we wore paper pilgrim hats or paper feather head-dresses and ate and talked about the history of the first Thanksgiving meal. Good stuff.

I have to say, Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year.  I love the idea that we all take a day to stop everything and give thanks.  That is just one of the best ideas…like, ever.  Every day should be Thanksgiving, not in the way of parades, food, and naps (that wouldn’t be a bad idea either) but in the way of taking inventory of what we have been giving and really spending some time recognizing what all our gifts are, and how we are using, or not using them. Much like the servants (most of them) in this past Sunday’s gospel.

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

  • “Come and share your master’s joy”
    • Honoring God with all that He gives to us, opens up a path for grace and His goodness to continue to bring His glory into the world, with us as a vessel to use as He created us to be.  Otherwise, we are using our gifts for the wrong reasons, and the grace is not there.
    • We will be given more responsibility but ultimately we will receive greater joy from serving God all the more; it is there that we find our true selves.
  • “Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
    harvesting where you did not plant
    and gathering where you did not scatter;
    so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
    Here it is back.”

    • We will be given the grace to do what He is calling us to do, and all that we need to complete it.  If we respond in fear, we cannot complete our assignment or understand what it is supposed to be.  What if the “talents” were souls? If we think of how precious each soul is, and what we have been entrusted with, we may have a better perspective of how important it is that we do our work carefully with God’s help.
  • Everyone who ever accomplished something amazing started by doing something small first, and doing it well.  Smaller acts of faith done with great love, like Mother Theresa and St Therese of Lisieux taught us, lead to greater works of faith in service.  As Matthew Kelly tells us, “Just do the next best thing.” We don’t have to have it all figured out now.
  • “Well done good and faithful servant”.  It is our great hope to hear Our Lord say this to us at the end of our earthly lives.  Sometimes maybe we make it too complicated? Maybe we make ourselves a path to God that is more than it needs to be.  His mercy and grace are enough.  Just a daily, generous and simple “yes” to God is all we need to really do.  He can help us with the rest.
  • God gave us each our own talents and abilities to do what we need to do; sometimes we can look at what someone else is doing and think we are not enough; we compare ourselves and get side-tracked.  We can exercise our talents and gifts and grow to serve God however He calls us, even “trading up” some talents as some of the servants in the gospel did, if we are called to do so.
  • One of our spiritual sisters in Christ says that at the end of our lives we should be bringing a whole stadium full of souls to God with us, that we loved and served.  That God would shine through us and our acts of love and service, and many would come to Him because we let Him live in us.

Our case today was about a woman who was shocked by the answer to a question she asked God.  After receiving communion during mass, she would usually list the prayers and people who had been on her heart.  This particular day, she instead said “Lord, please show me YOUR heart. What is it that is on YOUR heart?” She then had a vision of a person who was laying on the ground and surrounded by drug paraphernalia.  It was a slightly shocking image, because the person (it was fuzzy at the time as to whether it was a man or a woman) was passed out or asleep.

After she left mass the image was fresh in her mind.  She passed a homeless person on the street, and felt a need to stop and talk with him.  She said to herself “I have the time now, I am going to just see what he needs.” She offered to feed him, and he accepted her offer, saying that what he really needed was just someone to talk to.  After sharing a meal together, she asked him what he was doing earlier in the day (she was wondering about the time she had her vision of the person passed).  It had been 12:30 when she had seen the image.  He proceeded to tell her that he would normally be up and walking around early, but this particular day he remained asleep, (and had been asleep at that specific time).  She knew in her heart that he had been the man she had seen when she asked God to show her His heart.

Elements that we shared while discussing the case:

  • This woman had a particular case of what one person called “HOLY DARING”.  While many of us would not feel comfortable picking up a homeless person, or approaching a stranger on the street, she seem to know that she was on a divine mission and had no fear about it at all.
  • She had the heart of Christ; seeing God in every person, no matter their state, and understanding her responsibility to serve and made use of the time she was given, as the good servants in today’s gospel.
  • “Decision and action kill fear”; fear can be crippling.  Sometimes we analyze things too much and the longer we let fear creep in, it grows and we are convinced not to act.  Are we making excuses for ourselves? Thinking we are too busy to help? We have selfish reasons for not reaching out? The less we analyze something and the quicker we make a decision (after consulting with God of course) the less likely we are to miss the opportunity to serve Him.
  • Are we praying for our eyes to be open to opportunities to serve God? Her prayer was prayed during an especially powerful time in the Holy Mass when many of us make petitions for God to answer prayer intentions we have.  Asking God for His intentions during this powerful moment of the sacrifice of His Only Son is a powerful time for us to seek God’s will.

Virtues we recognize in this case:

Theological:  Faith; knowing that God would answer her request, and receiving it with an open heart.

Human: Justice: Giving to God and neighbor what is due.

Resolution: 

Spiritual: Ask God to “show me Your heart” after communion at mass or make a spiritual communion prayer and then ask. *See below

Apostolic: Help gather coats, chapstick, gloves, etc, for the winter coat drive.

 

 

 

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