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Sybil 2000

Gospel text

Matthew 25: 14-30

14 For it is like a man who, about going on a journey, called his servants to give them his fortune: 15 to one he gave three million dollars, to another one million two hundred thousand dollars, and at another six hundred thousand dollars, each according to his abilities, then set off on a journey. Immediately, 16 the one who had received three million dollars went off to make his money work and earned another three million. 17 Similarly, the one who received one million two hundred thousand dollars earned another million two hundred thousand. 18 But the one who had received six hundred thousand dollars went to dig a hole in the ground and hid his master's money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of these servants returns and settles his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received three million dollars stepped forward and handed out another three million dollars with these words, "Master, you entrusted me with three million dollars, here are three other million dollars that I earned". His master then began to declare to him, "Magnificent! Good and reliable servant, since you have been reliable in small things, I will give you responsibility for big things. Come and share your master's happiness". 22 Then the one who had received a million two hundred thousand dollars came forward to say, "Master, you entrusted me a million two hundred thousand dollars, here is another million two hundred thousand dollars that I earned". 23 His master then began to say to him, "Magnificent! Good and reliable servant, since you have been reliable in small things, I will give you responsibility for big things. Come and share your master's happiness". 24 Then the one who had received six hundred thousand dollars came forward to say, "Master, I knew you as a hard man, someone who harvests where he did not sow, someone who collects where he didn't distribute anything. 25 So I was terrified and went to hide your six hundred thousand dollars in the ground. Behold, you have what is yours". 26 His master then answered him, "Bad and passive servant! You knew, however, that I am someone who harvests where he has not sown and collects where he has distributed nothing. So you had to entrust my money to the bankers, and by returning I would have recovered what belongs to me with interest. 28 Take back this six hundred thousand dollars from him and give it to him who has six million now. 29 To the one who already has many things will be given again and he will be in overabundance. On the other hand, with regard to the one who has nothing, one will even take away the little he has. 30 As for this useless servant, exclude him from the domain of God and let him go in a world of remorse and anger.

What is a living tradition?


Gospel commentary - Homily

Gospel for little lives

Almost every month we hear the news of a man who blew himself up in Afghanistan or Pakistan, killing dozens of people. As usual, these are Muslim fundamentalists. I do not lay the blame on Islam, because Christians cannot forget these pyres in the Middle Ages when everything that was not orthodox was burned. Behind fundamentalism, there is always this nostalgia for a period that no longer exists, this refusal of a present different from its origins, this fear of "losing one's soul". And fundamentalism is of all times, of all religions, of all ethnic groups. So the question arises: what is a tradition, and more particularly a living tradition? How to "keep your soul" and embrace the present life? This is the angle from which I suggest you read the parable of Matthew, commonly called "parable of talents".

This parable is very well known. A man must go abroad and entrust his fortune to three of his servants, dividing it according to each person's abilities: five, then two, and finally a talent. You know the rest. The first two servants do profitable business and double what they have received, to the delight of the master, while the third buries the money in the ground to only dig it up when the master returns, arousing his anger. This parable can cause some discomfort. Because like all our stories with three characters, the key is always the third, and in our case the passive servant that the master describes as useless and that he throws out of his domain. Our unease is all the greater because behind the face of this master is that of Jesus and that of God.

Let us remember that this story comes from Matthew whose community, made up of Christians of Jewish origin, faces a formidable challenge: to be authentically Christian while preserving its Jewish roots. Through Paul of Tarsus, we know the tensions in the Church over circumcision or the dietary restrictions that we no longer wanted to impose on the newly baptized. For a Christian who wanted to be an Orthodox Jew, how could one forget the requirements of God on circumcision, or the Sabbath, or ritual ablutions? By abandoning these practices, and first by agreeing to baptize people without first asking them to become a Jew, was not the Church coming from the Jew Jesus, who centered his mission on the Jews, to lose his inheritance, and thereby his soul?

When we ask ourselves this kind of question, it is because life has reached us. Because life thwarts the most beautiful plans, the greatest systems and all the rules. This is what happened when non-Jews knocked on the door of the early Church to ask for baptism. What to do in the face of the unexpected in life? Parents believed that they had given their best to learn that their son was gay. A young couple experiences the happiness of the birth of a first child before learning that the spouse is bipolar and will need lithium for the rest of his life, and that the young baby could possibly be as well bipolar. That's the risk of life, and that's what the parable talks about. What did the first two servants do? They accepted the risk of life, and doubled what they received. What did the third servant do? He was afraid of life, afraid of his master and he buried everything: he of course delivered completely what he received, as a fundamentalist, but it was under the sign of death like everything that does not grows more. You can easily guess on which side the Jew Matthew stands, who ends his Gospel by saying: "Of all the nations, make disciples ..."

But the question still arises: when life challenges us like this, how can we find our way without losing our soul? The answer is simple, it is well known, but it is the most difficult. Let's go back to the third servant: he was afraid of his master. Fear is the exact opposite of faith, and faith can only spring from a loving heart, because faith is the eyes of love. What guides Jesus when he breaks the Sabbath law to heal someone, if not the love that inhabits him and his faith in a loving God? The parable of the talents is followed by this great scene of the last judgment where the Son of Man says: "I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink ..." This is how a tradition remains alive, this is how we evolve while keeping our soul.

There is even more. We can find it sad that the role of the fundamentalist is played by the one who received the least. But there is a message there, and this message is good news: even if one has the impression of having received little of life, giving what little one has and having faith that he can grow is so important that it has the same impact in the eyes of the master as if we had received five times more. When I look at my little life, I see so many ordinary actions with little impact that I say to myself, "Are these all useless things?" Matthew answers: "no, it is the Gospel at work". Is this our faith?

 

-André Gilbert, Gatineau, July 2011

Themes