"We Proclaim Productivity"
November 15, 2020
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
1 Thessalonians 5:2-6
Matthew 25:14; 19-29
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
In the Old Testament, there is a story in 2 Kings7 about a great famine at the time of Elijah so that a head of a donkey costs around Php15, 000 and a dove’s dung at Php1, 000. The famine was so severe that there was cannibalism among neighbors. The king knew of this and he was so sad that he tore his clothes. In the midst of this, Elijah prophesied that in 24 hours, the barley and flour will be cheap. Imagine me prophesying to you that tomorrow, a sack of rice will cost Php20.00. Would you believe me?
There were three lepers outside the city who were starving and they said to each other that if they just sit there, they will starve to death. They decided to go to the Aramean army camp to get food. They found it abandoned because God, in the previous night, caused confusion in the hearts of the enemy. They heard the sound of chariots and horses and the people fled. The lepers then plundered the tents and they ate food the food and hid the silver and gold. However, they said to themselves, “This isn’t right. It is such good news and blessing and we are not sharing it to the rest of our countrymen." The lepers went to the palace and told the king about the condition of the camp so that the people will have something to eat.
The lesson in this story and in the Parable of the Talent is: do not hide the blessing that God has given us. Don’t keep for ourselves God’s mercy and grace. We are blessed to be a blessing. Release these blessings because if we hoard or keep them for ourselves, they become a curse. We can partake of them, but we will not be satisfied. It is like putting money into our pocket with holes. Possessions are God's gifts entrusted to us which are meant to be spread abroad. They are His to have us share, not ours to withhold.
God reigns in disasters through us sharing the blessings with those who are affected. We can say to God that even if we get flooded, we will not abandon the people who are affected. The Lord is King. His kindness and goodness reigns through us so blessed those who are in need. Prosperity is not having abundance; it’s having abundance and helping the needy. Conversely, having abundance and not sharing it is called bondage, not a blessing. Sharing our abundance prepares us to meet the Lord. We do this by putting to work the talents that He has given to us. It is not keeping or hiding them for ourselves but sharing it.
A talent is a huge amount of money. It is said that a talent is lifetime of wages. One talent is already big so imagine the person given five talents and was about to double it. God has blessed us with great potential so that we can put the blessing to work and benefit others as well.
In the parable, two of the servants invested and traded with the talents given to them. They put it to work and paid it forward. The worst thing that we can do to what God has given us is to hide it. Investing always involves risk of pain and loss. In the kingdom of God, if we invest our blessings, we put ourselves at risk of being persecuted. All who will live in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. In the world, we will have tribulations, but the seed, the talent, the abilities, the blessings God has given us is programmed to produce. God’s word will not return to Him empty. Fear not! The joy of the Master is being given more to us – grace, mercy, responsibility, ability – so that these can be shared and be good stewards of. Similarly, Matthew 24:45 is about a faithful servant who was entrusted by his master with food with a responsibility to feed his fellow servants at a proper time. He did what his master told him as he was entrusted with the rest of the Master’s possessions.
Spend mercy and God's grace as liberally as God does and it will bear fruit. Freely we have received, freely we give. God is ever-blessing, so if we are ever blessing, we will be ever-blessed. Do not stop the flow of the blessing through us. Realize we have been blessed much so we also bless much. Realize that we have forgiven much so we love much even the least of our brethren.
The servant in the parable who hid his talent misunderstood and stopped the flow of blessing. If we don’t use it, we lose it; if we use it, we loose (release) it. The blessings that God has given us are meant to be released. Isaiah said, “What is the fast that God wants? Isn’t it to loosen and release the bonds of poverty?” How is this done? Share our blessing! Loosen the bonds of sickness, brokenness, hate, despair and all evil by sharing our encouragement, our lives, our blessings or a simple word or a pat on a back. Fight evil and brokenness by releasing the blessings and loosing the bonds and proclaim productivity! We have been blessed to be a blessing! Release these blessings for that is what we are meant to be and the way it is in the kingdom of our God.