The Gospel reading tells us candidly: be clever as well! The message is in the context of preparation as we now enter the last weeks of Ordinary Time. The approaching termination recalls also “eschatological” themes of readings: the end, the finality, the recapitulation and the return to the Kingdom of God.
Why clever? Jesus encourages us to put our action as a Christian “high note”. It is an upbeat of our lives as Christians since being one is not to be “weak”, or “lax” or “carefree”. Christian life is in indeed an upbeat of wise actions like the woman of the first reading from the Book of Proverbs. We make call it “pro-action” or a way of thoughtful and smart response to the call and demands of Christian living.
Interestingly, Jesus told a parable patterned after a real social fabric imbued with a lot of insights. Reading the cultural mesh of the parable, we detect that Jesus takes a genetic story of wealthy business-minded persons gaining more money by being wise. They are “pro-active” because they are so clever to use unexpected means to gain more. In Semitic culture, however, to gain more money and being too much enterprising can raise an eyebrow of suspicion from others. Hence, the Master is very clever to use as intermediary his servants to invest his money. On the other hand, the servants also are expected to do the same. They should act cleverly as well! This made the third servant so unfortunate that he missed the point of investing and, at some extent, risking.
This gospel is a right reminder for us. This is 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Liturgical year is about to end with some real implications:
FIRST: It is a call to reflect on our particular end; our own personal death. November is a month for us to remember our dead but it is quite appropriate also to view our lives in the imminent coming of our own personal end. Our question maybe will go like this: “How did I manage and invest my life into something God-centered and meaningful?” or “Was I prudent in acting in front of God who gave me my “talent” (now from monetary to an ability)?
SECOND: It is a call to reflect on the Universal or Cosmic end – the end of the world; God’s parousia. As a community, as a Church – I or we as member/s of this Christian community, how did I invest our “talents” God has entrusted us? Did I invest or risk in activities which promoted communion among my fellow Christians? Especially to the least? Did I entertain things which rather fostered bad action and hindered imprudence to others?
In the end, we realize that the risk of investment and our clever attitude toward it yield to our action of love. It ends in love. One spiritual writer projects that in the end of our lives, God will ask us: “How much did you love?” not on the basis of how many achievements, or how great you become in worldly affairs one has become succesful. It is only in love God will check if we have become clever for the sake of the Kingdom of God. | Fr. Ric Anthony A. Reyes, OSA