By Orlando Hernandez
This Wednesday’s Gospel (Lk 19: 11-28) gives Luke’s version of last Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew (Mt 21:14-30).
“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’” (Lk 19: 12-13)
Luke introduces another parable within the main one. This nobleman is rejected and despised by his own people. Jesus was already “near Jerusalem”, so His Passion was certainly on His mind. Since this Gospel was probably written after the destruction of Jerusalem, we are given a reference to the “slaying” of so many of Jesus’ “fellow citizens”.
But let me return to the main message of this parable in both Luke and Matthew. The master entrusts ten servants with a gold coin each. The first two servants seem to obediently invest their coins and make a good profit. The master is very pleased and rewards them with even greater responsibility! One possible interpretation of this parable is the immeasurable value of God’s gift of faith in Him ( the gold coin). We are called to share this faith so that this treasure will also live in others’ hearts. The more we do, the more Jesus expects us to accomplish for His Kingdom.
In Matthew’s parable the good servants are also rewarded by the invitation to “come, share your master’s joy.” There is so much joy in the service of God, even when we are called to do difficult things. Perhaps we can also look at this gold coin as the gift of Jesus Himself.
Last Sunday as I meditated on these parables, I stood behind the altar with the other Ministers of the Eucharist as I received the precious,
coin-shaped Host. I hardly had any time to relish this gift as I had to go down to the aisle, being very careful not to trip off one of the steps and drop the golden patten, full of treasure, which I gingerly carried in my hands.
The Body of Christ, His beautiful people, came one after the other. The priceless treasure that I would give each one of them filled me with luminous ecstasy. To hold Him in my hands! To worship Him each time I looked at Him and said “Body of Christ!” I truly felt like the good servant. I shared in His Joy. Thank You, Beloved !
Do I sound just a little like the Pharisee at the temple? What about the tax collector who comes with nothing to offer, except his fear and hope? What about the “wicked, lazy servant,” who took this golden coin, this gift of faith, and wrapped it in a handkerchief and hid it underground, or put it in some forgotten drawer, then saying to God, “I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.”? He cringes before God, as the punitive, exploitative dictator of our lives.
I know so many good people who feel like this, even though they were once worshipers of Jesus. The many bad breaks in their lives have led them to believe that God has it in for them. Their sinfulness has made them feel unworthy of salvation . The harsh Bible readings (like this one!), sermons, admonitions, and unfortunate rejections by our Church have led them to let go of that precious coin that was given to them.
But, to borrow from another parable, I believe that each one of them is actually a Lost Coin. God is looking for them! I know that Jesus says in this Gospel, “I tell you, to every one who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, more will be taken away.” Yet, this is the same Jesus who said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Jesus has His eye on those who are wailing and grinding their teeth, who are mourning, hungry and thirsty to be made right in the middle of their Godless lives. Sooner or later our Lord will take away the little we really have, all of us, good Christians and the lost, so that we might humbly go before His altar and beg, “Have mercy on me, a poor sinner.”
Beloved, You are Mercy itself. I trust in Your infinite Love.
The Reverend Daniel Considine,S.J. once wrote :
“ If we don’t look upon God as a hard man we have every reason to congratulate ourselves. We say we think Him merciful, kind, loving, but in our hearts look upon Him as hard. Three-quarters of the troubles of good people come from this. He feels intensely our misconception of Him. We look upon Him as a hard grasping man, who wants to get all He can out of us and give nothing in return. And woe betide us if we fail to satisfy Him. This is utterly wrong.
If God has ever shown me any love He must love me still. God does not care for me one day and hate me the next. He is not capricious or inconstant like man. Above everything, God wants my love, and with love come happiness and enthusiasm in His service.”
The golden coin He gave is of course, His Love. This is a forever gift.