The Second Sunday before Advent
We sing along/listen to:
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God
and heirs of eternal life: grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power
and great glory we may be made like him
in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
We sing along/listen to:
‘For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
In this time when the theme of remembrance is still very much on our minds, be that a time for remembering the war dead and our own faithful departed, it’s easy to forget the celebration that began this period – that is – All Saints – kept this year, on the date itself, and on Sunday.
The lives of the Saints, are as much for our remembrance and our edification, as those other most pertinent celebrations. The Saints have, in the words of our first reading from the prophet Zephaniah, been ‘consecrated’ they have been set apart, they have been made holy by his ‘sacrifice’ as the preceding words remind us. The Saints are the ones who have laboured for God, and I use that word deliberately, as it connects with the theme of the gospel this morning; the lives of the saints should be read in light of Parable of the Talents.
Jesus tells the story: the story of the man who gives money to three of the servants. They each receive talents, a very substantial amount of money, even one talent would’ve been considered a large sum. And what does the man encourage? He encourages the servants to give away and invest. As we read in the Gospel, two of the servants invest and make a profit to the pleasure of the master. The other buries the talent and then digs it up on the masters return much to his displeasure, what he had given him had not been invested, it had not been shared.
The message of the Gospel today is about the proper investment of what we have been given. Don’t think of this in capitalist terms, the talent is more than simply a large sum of money, it represents the spiritual life; a talent is everything that we receive from God.
The Saints gives us the example of using our talents well. Yes – the Saints are the ones who have built Churches, Monasteries, and Shrines, all testament to them and to God in bricks and mortar, but more importantly and more often, they are the ones who have invested the talents they received from God for other uses. The Saints are the ones who have cared for the poor, fed the hungry, they who were given the talent of compassion and faith and shared it with others. When the talent was given away, the more they received, more grace, more faith, more joy.
Each of us is called to give of ourselves. Last Saturday, the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, died. Lord Sacks was a man of towering intellect, a man of deep learning, and above all a man of the scriptures. I remember one of his reflections, he said: ‘there is only thing God cannot do without help from us – that is – to live within the human heart’. Do we co-operate with God? Do we actively seek to know him, to actively invest in the grace he has already given us through our baptisms? Do we invest in our talents by opening ourselves to him when he knocks on the door of our hearts?
We are called to the same inheritance as the Saints; that great ‘salvation’, we are called to be ‘consecrated’ by his ‘sacrifice’. To achieve this, we must work with God, as we endeavour to know and love him. We must use the talents he has given us, the gifts he gives to be able to articulate the faith clearly, to defend it, but most importantly, we must also give it away. Giving the faith away is the perhaps the hardest thing of all. We have to have the faith to give it away, but that faith will only grow when it is invested. We will not see a return if we bury our faith. So today, tomorrow and in the future, you are called to cultivate your faith, the talent, the life you have been given, it is called to increase. But we must start by giving it away, by sharing it with others like the Saints, for when they did, the people came to believe.
Give the faith, the life you have received from God, and think carefully how you are to give it away, where can you do it? In your place of work, in your school or college, in your home?
Use the talents God has given you well, invest well, take the risk of giving away and reap the return in the lives that are touched by God through your work. Pray, read and learn; tell, serve and give.
God of holiness,
your glory is proclaimed in every age:
as we rejoice in the faith of your Saints,
inspire us to follow their example with boldness and joy, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We sing along/listen to: