For Saturday of the Twenty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year
Today in his Gospel, the Lord uses a threatening image.
An absent master returns to count up the various investments he has left each of his servants to manage.
One servant has done nothing at all with the master’s investment, except hide it safely away.
The master throws him out to suffer in the darkness.
Do we like this picture of God?
Today at least, it is the picture Christ wants to use.
There is no comfort in this image.
Christ is telling us that being faithful is more than playing it safe, more than toeing the line, more than keeping the rules.
God wants to see profit.
He has entrusted us with investments that he expects us to return to him with profit to show.
What are these investments?
There are two investments that God hands over to us.
The first is ourselves.
What we have and are as human beings is to be used rightly and used well.
Our bodies, our relationships with each other, our feelings, our free choices, our thinking minds— all these are gifts from God who made us.
Our bodies, our relationships, our feelings, our choices, our thinking— all these are to be used, trained and cultivated in such a way that they give honor and thanks to the One who made us.
We are to give back to God all that we have and all that we are.
We are not to honor ourselves, but we are to know, love and honor God who made us.
Living for God’s honor and satisfaction is built into us, even though sin hides and contradicts it.
In the end, we cannot and will not be satisfied and completely happy with anything less than God and the honor of God.
But how do we arrive at unlimited heavenly satisfaction for the hopes and dreams of our bodies, our feelings, our freedom and our minds?
The answer is in the second thing that God gives to each of us for investment and profit.
God has entrusted to us his very own self.
It is this— his investment of HIMSELF IN US— that we are most responsible for returning to God not only intact, but with profit to show as well.
God has made us so that he can show himself IN us and THROUGH us— to the world, to each other, to our own selves.
He does not do this for his own good.
From beginning to end, the only reason why there is a universe at all is that God is good, God is free, and God is love.
He does not need the universe.
Everything— including ourselves— everything comes out of God’s goodness, his freedom and his love.
Goodness, freedom and love.
That describes God, but it also describes our human dignity.
WE— our spirits, our minds, our wills, our feelings, our relationships, our bodies, our SELVES … WE are made to reveal God whose love does nothing but give itself away.
When we do nothing but take, take and take, we have no time for goodness, freedom or love.
When we do nothing but take, take and take, we just get emptier, emptier and emptier.
When we give ourselves away and give ourselves up— especially when we give ourselves up to God— that is when we really come to know and live goodness, freedom and love.
Goodness, freedom and love … that’s God at work in us.
That is the accountability God demands of us: to transcend, to go beyond ourselves, because we are God’s image.
Freely chosen self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of others … that is love.
God does not need us; but he wants us to be like him, and take part in his goodness, freedom and love.
He desires and commands the effort and cooperation of our bodies, our feelings, our free choices, and our thinking.
If God did not think that our human efforts mattered, then the human suffering of Christ was a mockery of our humanity, and not an act of love.
We know that is not true.
In the suffering of Christ, our human commitment and human suffering are invested with the love and power of God himself.
He renews his promise and investment of himself— IN US— through the Eucharist.
In his Eucharist he gives himself to us as food, drink and wealth to invest our bodies, our sentiments, our wills and our minds with his own fullness and divinity.
From this investment, the Lord demands a profit, but not a profit that he will take away for himself.
He doesn’t need it.
As his Gospel teaches us today, the Lord reckons his accounts only so that he can give them back to us with rewards.
When the Lord returns in glory at the end of time, he will give the fullness of his own Resurrection to our bodies, to our entire being forever.
We shall hunger no more, yearn no more and die no more, for we shall be like God in all his fullness, seeing him as he is face to face.