Reading (Revelation 4:1-11) Gospel (St. Luke 19:11-28)
It often strikes people as being unfair that the Lord would take the little that one person has and give it to somebody else who already has much and that He would say, “To those who have, more will be given; and from those who have not, even what little they have is going to be taken away.” If we put that into worldly terms, it sounds like if somebody is wealthy we are going to give them more money, but to the poor, we are going to take away even the little bit of money they have. But that is not quite what the Lord is talking about. What He is saying is that He has given to each of us an amount of grace and ability, and that He expects we are going to be using that to increase it so that we can return it to Him. The choice is entirely up to us. If we are cooperative and we do what God wants us to do, then we are going to be glorified with Him. We are going to be able to enter into eternity not only with the amount that we have earned for the Lord in the work that we have done for Him, but He is going to increase that many times over. But, on the other hand, if we do not do the work of the Lord, if we take what He has given to us and we either bury it or we use it for wrongful purposes, then at the end it is going to be taken away from us and we are going to wind up in eternal condemnation. And so it is not a matter of being unfair – that the Lord has taken something away – because it was His in the first place; He is the One who simply entrusted it to us. The question simply has to do with what we have done with what the Lord has given to us.
Now we see in the first reading a little glimpse of the reward that can be ours: to be brought up into the worship of eternity, to be gathered around the throne of God with the twenty-four elders, with the seven spirits of the Lord, with all of those who are there in Heaven, singing out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts,” to be able to proclaim that with the angels and the saints forever, to be able to sing out with the twenty-four elders: “Worthy is the One who is seated on the throne to receive worship and honor and power and glory.” We know that is the truth.
But we are also told exactly what it is going to require for us to be able to enter into that. It is, first of all, to accept the kingship of Jesus Christ. It is, secondly, to take what the King has given to each one of us and to use it to further His kingdom, to be able to bring back to Him many times more than what He has given to us because the ability is already there; He has given it to us. In order to do that, we know it is going to require some prayer, some good works, some willingness to get rid of our own self so that He can shine through us – all of these things we need to do that sometimes we do not want to do because the world presents something that seems a lot more pleasant to us. After all, we can use our talent simply for the self. We can use it for illegitimate purposes. We can try to gain something to make ourselves look great in the eyes of other people. We could even use it for evil purposes. And while we might increase the amount that we have, it is not increasing it for the Lord; it is increasing it only for the self.
We have to be about building up the kingdom of God. If we recognize that He is the King and that He is the One who has given us everything we have, then we need to use it for His glory and for the furthering of His kingdom. That is what we are going to be held responsible for. What has He given to us? How have we used it? Are we taking what He has given and burying it? Are we taking what He has given and trying to say that it is ours and not His? Are we taking what He has given and using it for wrong purposes? Those will all get us condemnation. Or are we taking what He has given, recognizing Who it belongs to, and using it for the greater glory of God and for the good of those around us? Then we will be blessed and we will be brought up to the throne of God where, with the angels and the saints, we will worship Him forever.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.