When God calls us to serve Him, we need to first be convicted of that calling. It is only when we are convicted about the notion of our calling will we be able to discern what God wants us to do, and that discernment will produce commitment. Sometimes, when we attempt to stay committed but there’s no conviction, the commitment level deteriorates and eventually dies out. When this happens, the notion of our calling loses its essence.
Many of us start off very well, but somewhere during our spiritual walk, we fade away from the notion of the call. The primary reason for that fading away is that we no longer look to the Cross, but we are cross minded.
Francis Frangipane commented: How was it that, even in the common tasks of an ordinary life, Jesus drew the praise of heaven? At the core of His being, He only did those things which pleased the Father. In everything, He stayed true, heartbeat to heartbeat, with the Father’s desires. Jesus lived for God alone; God was enough for Him. Thus, even in its simplicity and moment-to-moment faithfulness, Christ’s life was an unending fragrance, a perfect offering of incomparable love to God.
Let’s test the parable.
In verse 25, it says that the master gives his servants the talents according to their own ability. The Greek word of ‘ability’ also meaning ‘power’. Very strangely, we fail to perceive that God has given us tasks only according to our own ability. The classic example of God not giving us anything beyond what we could handle comes from 1 Cor.10:13 ‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’
Therefore, the master had given them talents, knowing their power and ability. In order for him to know their ability, he would need to have a history and a pattern of the way the servants had performed in the past. In effect, to the servant that the master had given more talents, he must have had a high regard for him, knowing his pattern of sowing and reaping.
When the first servant and second servant had come forth with the produce of the investment, the master replied by saying ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
The four fold worthiness:
- Well done
There is a worthiness to be called a ‘Servant’. In India, it’s a pride to be called a ‘Government Servant’ in being a government servant; one enjoys a spectrum of privileges, including job security. How much more of power and security would a servant of an influential master carry?
- You have been faithful in a few things
- Put in charge of many things
- An invitation to share in the master’s happiness.
To the servant who did not reap what he had sown had justified that with accusations against his master. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ (vs24, 25)
Accusations from the servant
- Hard man
- Harvesting where he did not sow
- Accused the master of causing fear
Accusations from the master
- So, you knew...
- That I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed
- Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers
- So that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
- took the talent from him
- metaphorically, threw him outside as opposed to the other two who were invited
- metaphorically, put in the place of darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth as opposed to the other two who were invited to share in the master’s happiness.
What does this mean you may ask ‘Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ The meaning of this is that once the talents were taken away, the servant will not have any to invest. And if he does not have any, he cannot invest any.
As we see in the parable of the talents, the three servants demonstrated characteristics of varied dimension and attitudes. If the master knew their abilities including the laziness of one of the servants, in giving him one talent, the master must have given the servant an opportunity to perform and perhaps have another chance to be called faithful. But the servant failed the master. Due to inflation, the money put in the ground would have been of the same amount today as it was on the day of burying, but the value would be far less.
Have you felt that you have neglected God? Well, it’s a terrible feeling when you see others fulfil what God had initially called you to do. If you have neglected God and what He has called you to do, it’s because you lack stewardship.
Stewardship is the responsibility that has been given to us which we in turn have agreed to diligently undertake. The term stewardship started of in the context of hospitality where one would serve an individual at home, restaurant, etc. The term continues to be used in these specific ways, but it is also used in a more general way to refer to a responsibility to take care of something one does not own. While serving the Lord or by just being a Christian, it calls for due diligence. It is a mandate for us to portray the characteristic of diligence. In being diligent, we become aware of what God has called us to do. Most of us don’t have a problem in knowing what we’re ought to do, but instead, we have a problem in doing what we ought to do.
When God had called our ministry to start India’s first Christian Internet Radio Broadcasting Network, we knew that we were not the first to be called to this task. Personally, I knew others who were called to do it, but they were only boastful in starting it but lacked diligence and perseverance. When God had called us to call the nation of India, to purity, we were not the first to be called. During one of our major events on the call to purity, there was a Catholic nun present. She cried as she said “I was to do this five years ago, but did not do it. Now God has called you to do it”
When our ministry had called the nation of Indian to purity, the entire world media had reports of us. All the leaders of the ministry were youth and that surprised the world.
As Fr. Thomas Keating states: “The Gospel invites us to holiness and higher states of consciousness. This invitation involves risk; it means growing beyond where we are. It asks us to invest our talents even when we feel they are inadequate to a particular situation, job or ministry. It means that God, when He calls us to ministry, does not promise success, especially immediate success. The parable of the talents shows what happens to two people who accepted God’s invitation. They worked hard and with God’s help, doubled their investment. The man who hid his talent in the ground is like those who opt for the status quo because they know what it is; they are unwilling to open themselves to the risks of the spiritual journey. They refuse to work at the potential that God has given them and thus obstruct the upward evolution of the human family. Even if they do not regress to lower levels of consciousness, they fail to support the development of human consciousness into Christ-consciousness.
The man in the parable chose security as his happiness project and in so doing, closed himself off from the opportunity of further growth. Hence, the judgment: “Take away his talent and give it to those who are already advancing.”
Notice that the parable of the talents is taken from the business world. All the parables are based upon ordinary events: some from business, for the sake of the urban population; some from farming or fishing, for the sake of the rural population. Cooking, sweeping, lighting lamps, sewing, harvesting, investing, going to the bank— these daily occurrences form the basis of the parables. This suggests that everyday life is the place where the reign of God takes place. We don’t have to go to a monastery, convent, or hermitage. We do not have to go anywhere because the reign of God is right in front of our eyes. It is “close at hand.” Divine union is available to everyone on the face of the earth. Our potential for divine union is the talent, above every other, that must not be hidden in the ground.
The experience of trying and failing is the way to learn to discard self centred programs for happiness and to surrender to the movement of transformation. Sin is the refusal to continue to evolve. By clinging to mere survival and security, we withdraw ourselves and others from the opportunity and adventure of continuing to grow into the body of Christ.
The main area of our unfaithfulness lies in genuine prayer. What do I mean by genuine prayer? Genuine prayer calls for the examination of our conscience.
One of the youth that I was counselling, was from a very vibrant and well known Church. This girl was a convert. She portrayed herself as a very spiritual and well behaved person. As I had prayed and sought the Lord about this girl, I soon identified that she was a chronic liar with many ghosts in her closet. She would lie outrightly, without a second thought. While counselling her, she lied to me several times varying from silly issues to mega issues. She would pray everyday and motivate herself with Scripture verses, but would never do an examination of her conscience. She would go around speaking to people ill about her mentor. Whenever she would talk to me negatively about her mentor, I would cut her off. I recommended that when she went in prayer before the Lord, to first ask forgiveness for her sins and ask God to deliver her from the habitual sin of lies. She did not go too far as she was not able to surrender herself to the Lord. She caused problems with her ministry and fled the province.
It is imperative for us to do an introspection of our lives and our standing with God.
“It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection: Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.” CCC#1779
God seeks faithfulness in every aspect of our lives, be it in prayer, fasting or our relationships with people. We may pray and fast diligently, but if we are not faithful with what God has called us to do, then our prayer and fasting has gone in vain. What good is it to have all the money in the world and not being able to use it? Find out what God has called you to do and be faithful in it.