Why do we insist on interpreting the parables and the stories so that they confirm existing conditions, endorse dominant cultural values, rather than convincing us of injustice, sin, evil, or the need to be converted to the cross and community? …God stands behind Jesus and his disciples with power, but not the power of money, arrogance, dishonesty, hatred, violence, and cold-blooded heartlessness.
– Megan McKenna (Send My Roots Rain: A Spirituality of Justice and Mercy) p. 36
The readings for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found here.
All of the parables in Matthew must be viewed through the filter of the burgeoning Christian community and the synagogue that is expelling them.
This parable is no different. The message of Jesus was given to all, but fear demotivates the Jewish leaders. Guarding their tradition and fear of change led the synagogue leaders to hide the light of Jesus and this will be their undoing.
The destruction of the Temple and the Diaspora were dark times for the Jewish people. Matthew explains that the darkness and gnashing of teeth will continue without the light of Christ, and even what they have will be taken away.
Those who shine the light of Christ and are willing to break from tradition and take risks, are rewarded. Belief drives out fear and allows those loyal to Jesus to spread the good news. If we shine the light of Christ to others the good news will bring people to Jesus. Bringing people to Jesus is our richness and reward.
And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
– Mark 4:24-25
What does that mean for us today? If we listen to the voices of the people in our lives, how many of them shine the light of Christ? Do we recognize the light of Christ in the message we bring to those people we come in contact with daily?
There is a big warning sign, taken directly from the parable, that we can use to assess those messages we hear and deliver; fear.
If we truly believe in the teachings of Jesus and trust in the power of God there is no need to fear. We simply must love God and love our neighbor. The light of Christ shines brightest when we give our love away.
If the people around us are preaching hate it is because of fear and they are burying their talents.
If we are guarding our traditions because we fear change, know that we are burying our talents.
If we find ourselves surrounded by people who teach that it is acceptable to exclude others because they are different than us or made mistakes in their lives, it is fear speaking and I don’t need to tell you that they are burying their talents.
If you take one thing away from this homily it should be that the light of Christ must shine on everybody. Jesus accepts everybody, and so should we. Love has no exclusions, for any reason.
We are expected to speak up when we see people burying their talents, but our message must be love. Anger comes from a place of fear, and love must be fearless.
I pray that you are fearless in your love of God and neighbor. For everyone who has, more will be given. I wish you more.