Wednesday November 19, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31) Gospel (St. Luke 19:11-28)
In the Gospel today, Our Lord tells this parable about the coins that He had given to His various servants expecting them to be given back with interest, or at least to be given back having been invested and having multiplied in many ways, and this last servant says to Him, “But I knew that you are a hard man who harvests what you did not plant and takes up what you did not lay down.” Out of fear of Him, he did not do anything with this coin, and for that he was condemned. Now the point the Lord is making in that is that each one of us has been granted many, many gifts from the Lord and He is going to expect those gifts back with a much greater return than what He has given them.
Now we in our humanness are going to fold our arms and stomp our feet and say, “It’s not fair! They’re mine and why should He get something back when He didn’t do anything with them? After all, if I’m the one who had to go out and do the work with these, if I’m the one who had to increase them, why should He be the one who gets all the revenue from it?” But as we saw in the first reading, this mother with her seven sons in exhorting them was able to say to them, “I do not know where you came from. I didn’t give you the breath of life. When you look around at the universe, God made everything out of nothing.” So the reality of the matter is that the coins which God has given us are not ours – they are His. And for Him to expect them back with interest or with a greater return is not an injustice to us, but rather to refuse to give them back with a greater return is an injustice to God, Who has given them to us for a purpose.
We have to understand as well that what God is expecting of us is to show Him whether or not we are going to be faithful. He has given to us these gifts and talents and He is asking us to do something with them, that is, to serve Him, to work for His greater glory with the ability that He has given to us. If we refuse to do that, what we are saying, in essence, is, “We do not want this man to be our king.” We are the ones who are sending the delegation to say that we refuse to accept Him. We want to take the gold coins and say, “They are mine. I deserve them, after all, because I’m so wonderful. Therefore, I don’t want to use them for His glory; I don’t want to give them back to Him; but rather, if I invest these coins I should be the one who gets to keep all of the interest.” But they are His coins and we are His servants. He has asked us to do certain things with the talents that He has given to us.
So it is no injustice to us, but rather it is the greatest justice because for us to be able to take all that we have done, all the good that we have been involved in, and to give those to the Lord, He in turn will repay us many times over. For instance, we look in the Gospel and the man gives the king ten coins. The king in turn gives the man ten cities. So why would we be so stingy with God, Who will never be outdone in generosity? If we are willing to give God the little tiny bit that we are able to accomplish and we are doing that for His greater glory, then He will glorify us with Himself. For us, again, it is a win-win situation. We need to be careful that we are not doing it for some selfish reason, but rather that we are doing it out of love for God. If we did it saying, “Well, I’ll do all these things so that I can get more for myself,” that would be the wrong attitude. But rather our attitude must be simply one of obedience and one of love: “I will do this for my Lord because He deserves it, because He is the Lord, and because I am His servant and this is what He has asked me to do. Out of love for Him, I will serve.” That must be our attitude, knowing that He in His generosity is going to have an even greater attitude toward us, an attitude of complete mercy and charity. And so we have nothing to lose and we have nothing to fear, but what we must do is take what God has given to us and use it and obtain for Him a far greater return so that we can give back to Him many times over what He has given to us and in that way give Him greater glory and enter into His glory to share with Him in His kingdom.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.