Happy are those who fear the Lord
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6 The day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night.
Matthew 25: 14-30 Because you have been faithful over a few things, enter into the joy of your Lord.
With all the major news items this week around the APEC Meeting in Beijing and the G20 meeting in Brisbane, you may ha e missed another important news item.
Neil Balme is leaving Geelong!! This week, the Football Manager of the Geelong Football Club, who has helped carry Geelong through the past 7 years and achieved three AFL Premierships, is leaving to take up a similar role with the dreaded foe Collingwood!
Now I could bang on for ages about this, and for most of you what I have to say would make very little sense, have zero impact on your life, and you’d be left wondering why I was bothering you with this bit of footy trivia!
Has it ever happened to you that you have tried talking to someone about something really important to you and the other person not only has no idea what you’re talking about, but also has no interest, and has no intention of allowing what you are saying to make any difference to their lives?
Well, Jesus in our story today finds himself in much the same boat. The Sadducees were part of the Jewish religious leadership group, and in general they had no interest in being what God wanted Israel to be, namely a “light to the nations.”
It is clear that they were more interested in their own power and preserving their own status, and making sure the money was rolling into the Temple coffers so that they could continue to live in the manner to which they had become accustomed.
They really didn’t like Jesus and the way he was going about upsetting their lifestyle. He was offering God’s gifts not only to the poor of Israel, but to people from other nations and people who had never even heard of the Jewish faith and their God. This was not to be tolerated.
They had no interest in his stories and had no wish to allow them to impact on their well-constructed predictable lives!
This is the setting for the parable. We’ve only read a shorter version of it today but you can catch the full episode in Matthew’s 25th Chapter.
In Jesus’ story, the talents that the master entrusted to the servants would have been precious metal, gold or silver, about 25 kilograms each. So what the master was handing out was pretty huge especially in the minds of many of Jesus’ hearers who were quite poor.
The idea that the talents should bear fruit and double their value somehow is really Jesus’ way of saying, “Let’s take this wonderful gift of faith which is beyond price, and let others have a share of it. Let it grow, spread, increase, so that many will come to know the value of knowing and loving the one true God.”
Now the many gifts that we have been given are meant for us to develop and enjoy. By their very nature they are also meant to be shared and are only at their best when we share them.
There is a Greek word used in the New Testament “Charis”, the word for gift. This word refers to our gifts that are created specifically to be enjoyed and shared by others, for the building up of the community.
When a new baby arrives among us, we all want to share in the life of the new arrival. When someone becomes engaged, passes an exam, gets married, wins an award, completes a degree, as many people as possible want to share in the event.
We do this sharing very naturally and almost without thinking. It’s almost automatic for us.
Why is it then that so many people suffer alone? Why is it that three quarters of the world’s children go to bed hungry every night. Why is it that people in some parts of Australia, have to wait over twelve months for life-saving surgery?
Why is it that our automatic desire to share our gifts with each other seems to go off the rails and we leave so many people living without even the most basic of life’s gifts? We could produce a long litany of people who are missing out, who are excluded, who are ignored. You can make up your own list as you reflect during our Eucharist.
The way we use our gifts is very important for the well-being of the world around us.
The gifts God has given us, like the talents in the parable, are really priceless, and their value will only be increased and they will only be truly enjoyed, when we dare to share them well.
This week, we could each choose one gift we would like to share with someone. We could make it a gift we haven’t shared very often and make it a person that we’ve not really shared much with before. Listen then to how our heart responds when we dare to offer our gift in places where our gift has never been and look out for the delight we will cause in the heart of another.
Given the tragic event at Joey’s this week we would do well to offer one another an extra gift of an attentive, listening ear, a gift of compassion and the gift of holding our children close and letting each one of them know how precious they are to us.
We may even hear God’s voice echoing in our own heart: “Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in a few things. I will entrust you now with much greater things Come and join in your master’s happiness.”
While the departure of Geelong’s Football Manager may not mean much to anyone outside the sacred boundaries of the Geelong Footy Club, the gifts you have the courage to break open and share may become a gift beyond your present circle of family and friends, beyond your normal field of influence, and maybe even beyond your lifetime.
In our Saints, Prophets and Heroes we have plenty of such examples. There’s nothing to stop us joining them!