16th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
(Given by Deacon Richard Jendras at St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral; Carteret, NJ 16 September 2018)
Over the past few Sundays, we have been hearing our Savior speak to us in the selections from the Holy Gospel using parables. The Evangelist Matthew places today’s parable along with a serious of other parables that Jesus taught. Following this pattern, it would seem to us that our Lord taught these lessons all together, in one long marathon session. This indeed may be the case. Or perhaps, He used each parable on separate occasions, and Matthew just grouped them together in his record of the Gospel because they all have to do with the same theme - the Kingdom of God.
Whether Christ taught these parables individually, or whether he taught them all together in one long marathon session, really is not that important to us today. What is important is the lesson they teach. In each parable, Jesus is explaining the Kingdom of God in terms that the people of His time, and for that matter - the people of our time, also - could understand. In today’s lesson, Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of God can be compared to a man who went on a journey, but before he went, he distributed some money to his servants. Actually, a great deal of money. The Savior tells us that they each received a certain amount of talents. The servant who received one talent received a sum equal to over nineteen years’ worth of work (assuming six workdays a week)—more than enough with which to do business. The servant who received five talents received more than he could possibly earn in a lifetime by himself. So, you can see the man was very generous indeed.
Without re-hashing the whole story, we need too look into it today, and try to understand what the Lord was telling us. If we look with a discerning eye of faith, we can see that the master is a figure of Christ Who has given the Church and the members of His clergy certain graces to use in growing His Church. We wait for His return at the end of time, and it will be then, that He will require an accounting of us. He will ask us, what exactly we did with the abundant graces He bestowed upon us? He will ask us how we used them, how we invested them, if you will, to help bring about His Kingdom on earth.
My brothers and sisters, all too often, we get bogged down in our daily lives with the many responsibilities we have; work, school, family pressures; financial burdens and other things that affect our living day to day. All to often, it so easy to forget the many graces and blessings bestowed upon us by our Heavenly Father. All too often , we think no one has it as bad as we do. Our Lord, in today’s Gospel passage is reminding us to to stop and take notice. He has given us everything we need, if we only would stop and take notice. He has given us all of creation with all its beauty and majesty. St. John Chrysostom tells us that from the very first moment of creation, everything was done by God with one thing in His mind - MANKIND! It was all created for us. He has established the Church with Her Sacred Mysteries so that we may attain salvation. He has filled the Church with the many graces available to us, if we only make proper use of those graces. But, moreover, do we take the graces He has given us, do we share the Mysteries of the Church to enlarge the Church? After all, what is the Church if it is not the Kingdom of God on earth? It is our Divine call to take the gifts God has given us, to take those graces available in the Church to help grow the Church, and bring others into the Kingdom of God.
My brothers and sisters, today our Savior is asking us to meditate on this very question. He is asking everyone of us to take stock, to take personal inventory of ourselves: how have I used the graces of the Church given to me by God to enlarge His Kingdom? How have I shared what I have received in the Church with others? How have I done my part to grow God’s Kingdom on earth? It’s not just up to the priests and deacons to do. Each and everyone of us is a servant of God, and each and everyone of us has received from the Master. He expects each and everyone of us to do something with what He has given us. He expects it to grow.
Let us reflect on that today and ask God’s help to be better stewards of what He has given us. Let us ask His help and guidance in our efforts to enlarge His Kingdom, so that when the Master returns, each and everyone of us may hear the words from Him: Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of Your Master!