Gospel reading for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 25:14-30
Usually when I read or hear an interpretation of this parable, the main theme that is emphasized is that God has given each of us unique gifts and that we are expected to make good use of those gifts in honor of God and as productive members of society. Take our gifts and multiply them for the good of our community, rather than be lazy or hide them away. It’s an interpretation that motivates people to seize the day and look for opportunities to do good and make a difference.
But I think there is a danger in this interpretation. While we may start with the intention of making a difference in our community, it’s really easy for the focus to shift onto ourselves. Our goal becomes our own accomplishments, titles, and accolades, and we forget that it’s not about us. That we are not the center of the universe. That it’s not about what we do or how much we have, but about who we are and what we give.
As Christians, our central purpose is not to create the fastest plane or the strongest building material, nor is it to develop a groundbreaking software system. Our primary mission is not to cure disease or or write a book that hits the New York Times bestseller list. These are all very good things that enrich our lives and they are noble ways to spend our time. Innovations and inventions have value and oftentimes make our lives better, easier, longer, or more fun. But this is not why we are here.
As Christians, God gave each of us unique talents and desires that lead us into varying career paths and communities so that ultimately, we can bring people closer to Him. In all walks of life, and in every industry and corner of our world, God needs us to teach others about His love. To show them with the example of our lives, that there is a better way. We are called to treat our coworkers – whether they are teachers or doctors or accountants or electricians – with patience, mercy, love and respect. To befriend them as we consult with them. To shock them with our generousity, intrigue them with our depth of joy, and inspire them with the ease with which we forgive. Redefine their lives by sharing what drives us – that we are more than what we do or what we have or who we know. That we are love. That we are never alone.
We are called to see the people we interact with as people. And to connect with them on a level deeper than a transactional or practical one. Not to “collect” friends or impress ourselves with how many people we know, but to connect with people’s hearts and souls.
You may think that you have enough friends, or that you don’t have any time or room in your life for another relationship. Or, you may be afraid that growing closer to yet another person is only creating a new opportunity to eventually lose someone you love. I sometimes feel this way, too. Loving another person is risky and has the potential to lead to pain. They may disappoint you, betray you, hurt you or leave you. But “God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7). And the pain of losing people we love is part of the fullness of experiencing that love. When I long to spend time with someone or feel crushed when they are gone, it’s a sign that I’m doing something right. That I loved someone fully. The pain within love is to be embraced as part of the fullness of our human experience.
No matter where we live or what we do, God wants us to be faithful not fearful, and to share His love rather than hide it away. To make connections and evangelize, so that His love can grow and multiply. Try it. Go love someone new or connect with someone you already know on a deeper level. I don’t think it will make you feel more stressed or busy. I think it will lift you up and bring you one step closer to touching the sky. And when you see God at work in someone’s life, say something. Gently point it out to them, whether they believe or not. The more we share the experience of God’s amazing love, the higher we rise to a place of joy, wonder and peace.