Bulletin 197 - September 30/October 13, 2002
September 30 / October 13, 2002
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Abba Paphnutius, the disciple of Abba Macarius, said, "I asked my Father to say a word to me and he replied, "Do no evil to anyone, and do not judge anyone. Observe this and you will be saved."
For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents; to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours. But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast into the unprofitable darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We are blessed to hear the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew today. We are blessed to hear the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are blessed to live in a location of relative safety.
Through the centuries many faithful believers have worked to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many faithful believers through the centuries have suffered great hardship in the Name of Jesus Christ. Even today, particularly in Kosovo, but also elsewhere in the world, believers are exposed to peril because they are Orthodox Christians.
The present Gospel is a lesson in the use of talents given by God. Because of the abundance we have, we have a great responsibility. Because we have been exposed to the teaching of Jesus Christ, because we have been baptized into Christ, because we have been sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have the responsibility to live up to this high calling of being Orthodox Christians.
Bibles are plentiful in America. Church services are plentiful. Orthodox books are plentiful. Within reasonable travel distance, Orthodox monasteries are accessible.
People with computer internet access have the ability to learn almost immediately of Orthodox happenings around the world. The present Gospel teaches us to be good stewards of the blessings given to us, to be good stewards of the talents given to us.
Each time we come to the Divine Liturgy, we recite together the Nicene- Constantopolitan Creed. We profess our belief at Baptism and each Divine Liturgy that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Blessed Theophylact states: For whether a man be gifted with speech, wealth, authority of kingship, or any other power or skill, if he desires to benefit not only himself but others as well, he doubles what has been given him.1
Our talents are to be multiplied for the glory of God. The faithful stewards in the current Gospel account were rewarded with more. They were rewarded with joy for having invested their talents wisely. The single individual who did not make use of his talent, but rather buried it in the ground lost even the single talent he had.
Each person receives the blessings from God as an individual. Each person answers as an individual to God for the use of his or her talents. God is a loving God. At the same time, today's Gospel lesson makes clear that when we receive blessings, when we receive talents, we are to live up to and honor the responsibility that comes with having received them.
Multi-talented individuals have great blessings, but also a great responsibility to make full use of the multiple talents and blessings. In the present Gospel, the person with five talents, made five more. The person with two talents, made two more. Each of them doubled what they had received.
Today is an opportunity to examine ourselves. Today is an opportunity to ask ourselves if we use our talents to the glory of God. Do we use the fruits of our talents to benefit of others, for benefit of those in need, for the benefit of God's Holy Church.
Our Lord Jesus Christ hung upon the Cross for our salvation. Because of Christ's sacrifice for us, because of His death on the Cross and glorious Resurrection, we have reason for continued hope. Christ's bountiful love gives us reason to exist, to feel worthy, to know that if no one else loves us, Christ loves us.
By the way we use our talents, we can show our appreciation for Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. By using our talents for the glory of God we can express appreciation to God for having given us talents, for Christ's giving us the opportunity for new life in Him.
Today men, women and children in the Kosovo area move with peril even to go to church. Let us use the freedom and safety we have to good effect .
We have many, many blessings simply by where we live. Let us pray fervently. Let us use our talents with great care. May we repent of sinfulness and live to the glory of God in all that we think, do and say.
1The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of The Holy Gospel According to St.Matthew Hot Springs, Missouri: Chrysostom Press, l992. P.216.