November 15, 2020
XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
We listen to today’s Gospel passage (Mt 25: 14-30) starting with that of last Sunday (Mt 25: 1-13): we saw what the wise virgins of the parable, waiting for the bridegroom, worked hard to have a sufficient reserve of oil for their lamps, a reserve that was sufficient to feed the flame until his arrival.
And we saw, therefore, that there is a profound link between wisdom and the ability to wait: those who wait for someone stay alert, creative, attentive in life, and what happens does not pass them by without touching them. Waiting is making room for the depth of life; it is looking for its meaning, and this generates a dynamism that makes life more intense.
Those who do not wait, on the contrary, have no reason to get busy, and it is as if life flows without their participation.
The same interpretation applies to today’s passage: there is a wait because the landlord has left for a trip.
On leaving, however, he did not leave his servants idle but entrusted them with his possessions, the things of his house.
Here comes to mind the account of the first chapters of Genesis: God creates the world, and then withdraws, entrusting his house, the whole creation, to man, to cultivate and keep it (Gen 2:15).
And the order in which the biblical author uses these two verbs is interesting: the call of man is not primarily to guard the garden, to defend it from possible enemies, to preserve it from any risks or accidents. Instead, his call is to cultivate it. That requires his energy so that the garden expresses all its beauty, its potential, for the good of all.
Just like that in today’s story: some servants cultivate the gifts they receive and even risk losing them, provided they bear fruit. And they experience that the talents they receive, if used well, really bear much fruit.
But a servant, the one who received only one talent, guards his gift without cultivating it. He does nothing wrong, he does not lose it, but he does not invest it, does not put himself out, he hides it (Mt 25:18).
He does it out of fear (Mt 25:25), where fear arises from a false knowledge of one’s master, from a lack of trust in him.
While the first servants speak of their master as the one who gives (Mt 25:20,22), the third servant speaks of his master as the one who takes away (Mt 25:24).
And it is interesting that turning to Genesis, we find precisely the same dynamic: when a man stops knowing God as Father and begins to think of him as someone who takes life, instead of giving it, then he tries to save himself, to provide himself with life alone. And, in the end, he too is afraid, and he also hides.
So, we can say that perhaps today’s parable wants to tell us first of all this: that waiting is anything but the passive attitude of those who remain doing nothing while waiting for what must happen.
But it also wants to tell us that waiting is creative; it is generative of life, only when one expects the One from whom one hopes everything, only when one expects Someone who is known as good.
Then you are not afraid, and you know how to take risks.
Only those who genuinely wait can risk everything, knowing that however things go, they will not lose the greatest good that a man has received from God. Namely his own being a child, however, and always loved.