As I recover from major surgery, I decided to pull out a draft from last fall that I particularly like because although it isn’t timely to the season of Easter, it is always relevant to the way we are stewarding the gifts God has given us to build His Kingdom. Each day counts and as I am unable to “feel” as though I am accomplishing for the Lord through my “busi-ness”, I am humbled that my prayer and work take on a quieter (and perhaps even more effective) contemplative nature.
I was praying with the gospel from Matthew 25:14-30 (the parable of the talents.) A master goes on a journey and calls his servants, giving them “talents” (money) to manage while he is away. Some get more than others and everyone invests the money except for the last servant who only got one. When the master comes back he is pleased with all of the servants except the servant who had the least money and buried it in the ground to keep it “safe.” The servant explains…
‘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.’
I have to admit I was struggling to understand what seemed to be an unjust master, as he becomes so angered by this servant that he casts him out. I assume that the master represents God, our Father. And so calling upon the help of the Holy Spirit, St Joseph, Our Lady, my angel and last but not least, St Augustine (it’s his feast day after all) I asked the Lord to help me understand.
Harvesting what you did not plant…
The servant says this phrase to the master and the master repeats and confirms this later to the servant. I asked the Lord why it seems He is represented by the master who did not plant when He is the creator of the universe and certainly all the seeds in the planting and sowing and what they reap, belong to Him. So how is He seemingly this cruel master?
If I look at this gospel from the point of the master, I can see that I am an INVESTOR. I am taking what is mine, and giving to others to use in my stead. Most of the servants seem to get that. This last one seems terrified and digs a hole. But he took no risks…isn’t that prudence? What is the difference between fear and prudence on a human behavioral level?
Fear VS Prudence
I understand that the fearful servant did what he did because he feared for himself. If he had acting out of the virtue prudence, he would have placed the reverence for his master’s wishes above his own, even if it meant risk for himself. By definition;
Prudence disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. It is right reason in action.
They key here is discerning the true good and discerning the right way to achieving it. Today I will do my best to consult the Lord in prayer before acting, asking Him what He desires from the situation, even if I risk discomfort to myself to make it happen.