Readings: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; I Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30
Some of life’s challenges do leave me feeling that God can be very demanding. How am I to understand today’s parable?
I believe that the context is very important. Today’s Gospel narrates a teaching from the last week of Jesus’ life. This is his legacy to those who believe in him or reject him. During his final days he’s describing the urgency of final judgment.
If we reduce today’s Gospel to employing or wasting our talents we are shrinking it to the compass of self-absorbed suburban life. The picture is much bigger: we have one chance at life before it all comes to an end. How small, cautious or insulated is my life? Do I allow myself to be challenged and judged by the demands of the Gospel? Do I really want to respond to the incredible–and risky–invitation God offers? Do I just want to save my hide from hell? Haven’t I learned that hell is hopelessness? Haven’t I yet learned that I could live a perfectly correct, upright, religious life and remain totally hopeless?
If you want to argue that God is unconditional love and I’m missing the point, I’m afraid I’m going to agree with you that God is unconditional love–but that doesn’t change anything. Because God loves me unconditionally, he’s inviting me to be all that I could be. Does God demand more of me just to train me to conform or to improve me? Aren’t those demanding expectations the best for me? Isn’t a cautious response an attempt to earn approval rather than receive the free gift of becoming all I could be?