“Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!” Psalm 128, 1-5.
The gospel passages for the Sundays in November challenge us to pay attention to the needs and hurts of those around us, learn how to grow our talents, and give an accounting of our stewardship.
Today’s responsorial psalm provides insight about a final judgment or an ultimate reckoning at the end times. The phrase “fear of the Lord” sounds foreboding and too harsh, and a sentiment reserved for a disciplinarian. It’s not my view of a loving-God!
A more apt translation might have us stand in “awe before God” – whose presence awakens us to our unique role in this creation. Such a view of the divine is like seeing a mindboggling vista — the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, or Yosemite, for the very first time.
A sight that is so thrilling — we must walk in his ways! Our God is an awesome God!
Among Matthew’s 17 parable stories, the master in this story has a stern voice while he allots talents to his three servants.
This master insists on a return on his investments. When he is back on the scene, he inquires how his servants prospered. The two servants who did his bidding gained more responsibilities and shared in the master’s esteem. As far as the story goes, they may have feared their harsh boss, but, after all, these were the successful servants.
Is there an alternate interpretation of this parable? Keeping in mind Matthew 21 and the point: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” How might we read this story for another layer of meaning? Could this third servant, that rejected man, be the honest broker?
Perhaps this man would have none of his master’s greed, and instead, he became the truth-teller, the outlier, whose morality would not buy into a corrupt system of rewards.
I’m reminded of an insightful adage from one of my scripture professors, Father Jim Turro, who wrote: “Our trials can be made into our greatest assets. Our privileges can turn out to be our worst enemies.”
In this allegory, the rejected, useless servant – just maybe, he could be Christ himself. No wonder we have such a concern for him and his fate.
In the heart’s invisible kingdom, we must grow our talents, but for the right reasons and not for earthly rewards.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul writes: “But you, brothers and sisters … are children of the light. Therefore, let us stay alert and sober.”
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.
“A Simple Song,” from Mass — Leonard Bernstein.