The servant who had received the one talent came forward and said, “Master, I knew you were a demanding person…so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.” His master answered back, “You wicked, lazy servant…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.”
The Church offers us the option of reading the shorter form of today’s Gospel. The problem with that is that it leaves out the punishment given to the “lazy and wicked servant”. Of course we don’t like to hear it, but once in a while, I really think we need to. That is, we all need to hear what could happen to us if we were to allow fear and laziness to grip us all the days of our life. We could very well end up being sent away. Do I realize that I will be held accountable for the talents that the Lord has given me? Do I realize that He expects something back?
What talents has the Lord made available to every human being? What makes us fully human and fully alive? The answer is simple: faith, hope and love. No other creature has these talents. No other creature lives by faith, hope and love. We, Christians, have been given, by virtue of our baptism, the gifts of faith, hope and love. Now, we are called to use them and to multiply them through our spouses and children; our neighbors and friends; the stranger and our enemies.
What does it mean to have faith, hope and love? It means to see beyond our sight (faith), to go beyond the facts, and to give and receive above and beyond ourselves!
Let me share with you a beautiful and delightful example of this. A young mom recently told me that her greatest joy is waking up to her two-year-old daughter’s morning song. It’s a simple song, repeated over and over again, starting around 6:30 am. The mom told me that her daughter is the best alarm clock ever! This tiny child speaks into the room monitor, placed next to her crib, and says (almost sings) the word “mommy” in the sweetest, most elongated manner possible! Something like, “mooooooooooom-my”. She repeats herself until her mommy comes and gets her.
How sweet is that! It is no wonder the Lord told us that we need to have a child-like faith. If you think about it, every morning this little girl is just oozing faith, hope and love. She knows that although she cannot physically see mommy, she knows her mommy is present. Likewise, she has great hope because although mommy is not in the room, she knows that she will come get her. Finally, this little girl knows how to love because she knows for certain that her mommy cares about her more than anyone or anything else.
In a nutshell, this little girl has faith, hope and love. We should have a similar faith in the Lord – a faith that is simple and firm!
Our Lord prepared his disciples well in the virtues of faith, hope and love. On the night he was betrayed, and as the soldiers came to arrest him, he told his disciples – the eleven (Remember, Judas was absent. He had lost his faith, hope and love for the Lord) – something remarkable! Actually, he told them something crazy! He told these eleven lonely and scared men something that we should never forget. He told them, “Do not be afraid. I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).
This is where we get our craziness from! And Christians have been known to do some very crazy things, like having faith, hope and love in the worst possible time and under the worst possible conditions!
If you are currently going through some tough times in your life, then remember what the Lord told the Eleven - his friends: “Do not be afraid. I conquered the world.” All you have to do right now is remain faithful, steadfast, and loyal through faith, hope and love. As you are navigating through the storm, repeat in your mind, steady…steady….steady…
The Lord said, “Remain in me as I remain in you. Whoever remains in me bears much fruit.” It is by our faith, hope and love that we will conquer evil and stand up for truth. There is no other way! It would be impossible for any of us to find the courage and the strength to stand up for a truth unless we had faith, hope and love. No wonder why so many innocent people decide to strike deals, to plea-bargain, or to admit to something they did not do!
Steady…steady…steady… Increase your faith, hope and love by serving the Lord and following in his footsteps. It will do your body and soul a lot of good!