How will you cash in on the investment God made in you? Today Fr. Michael highlights our mission from God to use the talents God has invested for us to make the world a place of God’s love and mercy.
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Gospel Luke 19:11-26
While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
I heard this morning on the news that we set a record in the United States last month for mergers and acquisitions. It has also been well documented over the last couple years, and we heard a lot about this during the presidential debate from different perspectives, that the income gap between rich and poor is widening. Which is another way of saying, the rich are getting poorer. Jesus uses those economic analogies in today’s gospel. He uses an analogy of business, of investment, because it’s an analogy people of his time would be aware of 2000 years ago and, being a capitalist society, we are acutely aware of the power of those examples in our life as well.
Jesus is not giving us stock tips in today’s Gospel, but he is giving us eternal tips. The investment that God makes in everyone of us is everything we have and call our own. There isn’t anything that we own that is totally ours. Think of ourselves as stewards. God is the owner of our lives. That’s the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, in what he calls “The Principle and Foundation,” that we are created. We didn’t call ourselves into existence, we didn’t think one day, “You know, I think I will decide to be born and I want to be an American. And I want to be born to Joe and Edie Sparough. And I would like to be born on May 2nd, 1950. I would like to be born in the great city of Chicago. May it be so!”
It doesn’t work that way. God is our creator and God decides whether we’re born in the United States and God decides who our parents are. We don’t choose our parents, God chooses those for us. God chooses the time and the age and the place and we don’t decide, “You know, I want to be another Einstein.” or “I want to be another Shakespeare.” We don’t decide that. God gives us the grey matter. God gives us our genes; everything we have and call our own comes from God. God is the owner and we are the stewards of that.
The point of the parable is it makes a huge difference how we invest what God has given us. Some have an abundance of natural talents. In the analogy of today’s Gospel, 10 talents. Others 5 talents. Others 1. Now notice that the king is equally pleased with the one who has 5 talents and who invests it and receives 5 more. The king is delighted. But it’s the one who doesn’t use wisely what God has given that angers the king.
St. Ignatius Loyola taught us a prayer in the spiritual exercises which is, in Latin, called the Suscipe. It simply means: “Take Lord, receive. Take Lord, receive everything I have and call my own. Everything I have you’ve given to me, now I return it to you. To be used only according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, that’s sufficient for me.”
I would challenge you today and every day to think of yourself as a steward of what God has given. If God has blessed you with wealth. If God has blessed you with intelligence. If God has blessed you with a strong family. Whatever God has given you, don’t think of that simply as: “Thanks God! Wow this great!” and just hold on to that. Think of that as God saying, okay, I’m giving this to you and I want you to invest it wisely. By making of this world a more just, a more loving, a more merciful place.
We have these two extraordinary women whom we celebrate today, very different from each other. Margaret of Scotland, a queen and a mother. And she used her position as queen and mother to make an incredible difference so that 800 years later we remember her as a woman who did what she was called to do. She used her position in life, not to neglect the poor, but to use her influence for them, and she was in an extremely influential position to advance the Kingdom of God.
And we celebrate St. Gertrude who was a mystic. Obviously, from age 5 if you’re given mystical apparitions at age 5, God is giving you extraordinary graces. But she didn’t use those just simply to focus on herself, she used those to educate others, to inspire others, to speak to others about the mysteries and the wonders of God in a particularly brutal time.
No matter what the circumstances of our lives are, whether we’re rich or poor, whether we’re young or old, whether we’re married or single, or divorced, whether we’re gay or straight, whether we’re republican or democrat, God has invested with us and wants to make a return with our lives. If we think of ourselves as stewards of what God has given, then like the Blues Brothers from Chicago, we can say, “I’m on a mission from God!”