This Gospel passage is generally regarded as a parable, but this is not accurate. It belongs to the genre called judgment scene, found both in the Bible (cf. Dan 7) and in rabbinic literature. The aim of this literary genre is not to inform about what will happen at the end of the world, but to teach how to behave today.
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One might wonder about the justice of unequal distribution of the talent among the servants. However, it is not what one receives that counts, but what one does with what he/she has received. The Master’s delight and offer of reward are the same towards his servants who doubled their talents. God looks not at the quantity of our offerings, but at their quality as well as the attitude with which we offer.
In the early Christian communities, there was a widespread belief that Jesus would return very soon to catch up with his disciples and introduce them in the Father’s kingdom. Paul also shared this idea. From where did it come from? How did it begin? It is spontaneous and natural to imagine that one’s generation would be the last and the world ends with us.
In the universe we know, the world to which we long for does not exist. To satisfy the need for the infinite that God has put in our heart, it is necessary to leave this land and embark on a new exodus. We are asked for a new exit, the last—death—and this frightens us.
Among the people who appeared in this world, only Christ has possessed the fullness of this force of goodness and only he can be declared saint, as we sing in the Gloria: “You alone are holy.” But we, too, can rise up to him and become partakers of his holiness.
Today there are believers, people in the Church, who fulfill all religious practices, but at the same time worship their bank account, social position, honorary titles, career, power and their ambitions. They have indeed a “divided heart”; they do not love with all their heart, as Jesus claims.
A human being does not live alone. One is part of a civilized society and should establish collaborative relationships with others. From the need to organize for the sake of coexistence, comes the need to determine the rights and duties to give to institutions, and to set ways and forms to contribute to the common good.
The invitation to the banquet of the Kingdom is freely offered to all. Everyone is invited. However, not everyone accepts it. And those who accept must play by the rules of the Kingdom. That is why the one without the wedding garment is thrown out. Sometimes we have an erroneous understanding of God’s mercy – that he forgives everything and therefore, everything goes. It doesn’t.
In narrating this parable, the evangelist Matthew certainly thought of the infidelity of the leaders of his people and their rejection of the Messiah of God. But not only to them; he also thought of his community and the entire world: every person is a vine-grower from which the Lord expects delivery of the fruits.
Saying ‘yes’ to God means giving up one’s own thoughts and accepting his. He does not look for the satiated, but those who are hungry to fill them with his possessions (Lk 1:53). He does not appreciate the powerful who sit on thrones but lowers himself to raise the lowly (Lk 1:52). He does not reward the righteous for their own merits, but makes himself the companion of the weak and introduces the tax collectors and prostitutes first in the kingdom.
A certain spirituality has instilled in Christians 'the religion of merit,' which is equal to the religion of the Pharisees. It has been taught that we must do good because in this way we accumulate merit in Paradise. But this is not love, this is selfishness, it is thinking about ourselves. It is one of the conditions that Jesus sets for those who want to follow him: forget about yourself, think only on giving joy to your brother.
We forgive ourselves with difficulty: we torment ourselves with remorse. We do not accept the humiliation of a weakness. We drag our fault behind as an unexploded, dangerously untriggered bomb. Only one who has a peaceful relationship with oneself is able to recognize one’s own mistake. He knows that a positive recovery from a bitter experience of sin is possible.
The community that boasts of its “heroes” and feels an unacknowledged rejection of sinners, considersthem ballast, dry branches, a “disgrace” for the whole family. It shows to have assimilated the criteria of this world, not those of God who is in love with the last and those who do not count. He declared his love to themost insignificant of the people, Israel, thus: “You are precious in my sight, and important—for I have loved you” (Is 43:4).
Deny yourself means you stop thinking about yourself. It is the reversal of the principles in this world governing relations between people. It is the rejection of those that all believe to be positive stimuli because they push to action: the pursuit of one’s own interest, the will to achieve gratification, acknowledgments, and benefits. Even in the purest acts of love, there is often some veiled forms of selfishness and ambition.
In conclusion, we can say that, from today’s Gospel, as in many other texts of the New Testament (Mt 10:2; Lk 22:32; Jn 21:15-17), it is clear that Peter is entrusted with a particular task in the Church. He always appears first, is called to feed the lambs and the sheep and must sustain his brothers in the faith.
The message is as timely as ever. The Church is called to be a sign that all discriminations related togender, membership to a race, to a people or to an institution are ended. Paul declares: “In Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God through faith. All of you who were given to Christ through baptism, have put on Christ. Here there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman; but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
In Mary we have contemplated our destiny: The definitive life that awaits us in the world of God. And this feast of today with friends, with banquet, will have a different flavor and glory if we have this second look that allows us to see in Mary our destiny.
As long as he keeps his eyes fixed on the Master, he is able to go to him. When his faith diminishes, when he begins to doubt the choice he made, he sinks and is afraid of being overwhelmed, of losing his life. It is the description of our condition. “Come to me now—the Risen Lord repeats to every disciple. Do not be afraid of losing your life.
“The Lord gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry” (Ps 146:7), are the words with which thepious Israelite professes his faith in providence. This is echoed by Mary in her song of praise: “He has filled the hungry with good things” (Lk 1:53). But how can these statements be true if a quarter of humanity live in conditions of absolute poverty, where every day tens of thousands of children die of hunger, if millions of people scramble the garbage looking for food? Has God who clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the sky perhaps forgotten his children?