Matthew 25:14-30
'Using Gifts for Christ's Sake' by Rev. Paul deLadurantaye
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Matthew wrote to show that Christ was the
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.

It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one - to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.  Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five.  Likewise, the one who received two made another two.  But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money. 

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.  The one who had received five talents came forward bring the additional five.  He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.  See, I have made five more.  His master said to him, 'Well done my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities,  Come, share your master's joy.'  Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, 'Master, you gave me two talents.  See, I have made two more.'  His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master's joy.'  Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.  Here it is back.  His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?  Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 

Now then!  Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.  For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'

What are you doing for Christ's sake?"  was how a priest began his homily one Sunday.  This week's Gospel, about the master who gives his servants different amounts of money to be used and invested wisely, provides us with an opportunity to reflect on that question and on how well we use our gifts and talents for the sake of the Lord and His kingdom.

Liturgically, we are drawing near to the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of another.  The Gospel parable calls to mind the parousia (or the Last Judgment), that moment when the Lord will return to see what use we have made of all He has given us throughout our lives.  Each one of us has different capacities and qualities: our intellectual gifts, our ability to love, our talents that aid us in our work, whatever material goods we might have and so forth.  These are gifts of God, entrusted to us so that we may develop them and place them at His service.  The day will come when we will have to render an account to God for what we have done with everything that He has given us.  The Gospel reminds us of our responsibility to cultivate and put to good use the gifts we have received from the Lord.

Do we show, in our families and in society, what it means to be a follower of Christ?  Do we assist the needy by our works of charity?  Do we act responsibly and honestly in our work, trying to do the best job we can?  Do we give good example to others by our own witness to Christ?  Do we take the time to pray and to study what God has revealed to us, by deepening our understanding of the teachings of the Church, or by prayerful meditation on the Scriptures?  Do we try to imitate the Lord Jesus in all that we say and do?  If we do these things, then the Lord will say to us what He says to the industrious servants in the Gospel: "Well done! Come, share your master's joy!"

The Gospel parable, however, also contains a warning, for one of the servants did nothing with the money his master had entrusted to him.  He went off and buried what he had received out of fear and laziness.  In doing so, this servant failed to let his gifts serve the good of his master's kingdom, and in the end all he could offer to his master were excuses.  Ultimately, this servant did not love his master enough, for true love is always willing to go out of itself and seek the good of another.  Love motivates a person to give true service, both to God and neighbor.  The opposite of laziness is diligence, and the word "diligence" come from the Latin word meaning "to love."  therefore, if we are diligent in working for the spread of God's kingdom, if we do not become lazy or fearful in regard to what the Lord has given us, then we reveal our love for God by the service we offer Him.  In turn, the Lord rewards us with countess more blessings, and above all, the gift of sharing in His own divine life.

Reading this Gospel parable near the end of the liturgical year reminds us that our time on earth is short.  That is why we have to make good use of the years that God grants us by working for the love of God and neighbor, no matter how trivial or how important our activity might seem to be.  We should resolve not to waste time by worrying too much about the past or being excessively concerned about the future.  Jesus will give us the grace we need to meet the challenges of the future, as well as to repent of the sins of our past, but He asks us today to entrust ourselves to Him, that we might cooperate with Him in the building up of His kingdom.

"What are you doing for Christ's sake?"  The Lord urges us to examine ourselves in light of this question, and hopefully to answer it by saying to Him, "Lord, you have given me so much in my life; see, I have made good use of your gifts, and I have grown rich in your grace!"

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