The parable about the traveler and the servants, that we hear on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, is about trustworthiness, competition, awareness, productivity or looking good in the master’s eyes. This parable is situated in Matthew’s Gospel right before the judgment of the nations and the final events of the life of Jesus. It plays a prominent role in setting up the Gospel for the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is almost as if the author is trying to get us to grasp just how important the contents of the Gospel are and to help us receive them with faith and commitment.
A master prepares to go on a journey and decides to entrust his possessions to servants. Not everybody gets the same amount but everybody gets something to watch over and tend. This could easily be interpreted as productivity or profit, but nothing could be further from the truth. It could also be interpreted as a value system, where some of the servants are thought to be more important than the others, and so are entrusted with more. Not the truth at all. Haven’t we just been reminded that something powerful can come from something so small and insignificant as a mustard seed or a bit of yeast?
It seems that the master is looking for servants who are not governed by fear but by faith in the master and in themselves. When God entrusts us with something or someone, large or small, it isn’t because we are more or less valuable to the Kingdom of God but because God wishes us to be attentive and alert as we carry God’s gift through life and nurture it as best we can. Sometimes you can tell a lot more about a person and how they handle small responsibilities rather than the big and important stuff. Attention to details of love and hospitality are so important, whether someone is watching or not.
Our belief that we are people of the light and not of the darkness will allow us to care for that which is entrusted to us. I know that we would all say yes to being people of the light, but do we act that way? Is our alertness and attentiveness based on fear and someone watching over our shoulder or is it based on faith that what God has entrusted us to do is worthy of our care, whether we have a fear of being watched or a trust that God believes in us?
People of the light and not of darkness spend their time in the present moment. They do not live in regret for what did or didn’t happen in the past and they do not live with fear or anxiety about what might or might not happen in the future. People of the light know that they have been entrusted by God to live this day for the glory of God. Living in the light means we are called to love our enemies and not hurt them when they are down, it means being compassionate toward those with whom it is so easy to be judgmental, it means choosing forgiveness rather than holding a grudge and it means thanking God for each and every moment we get to live. Let us be children of the light, for that is who we are!
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.