As we read through the passage set out in our Lenten studies book this week, we encounter a familiar parable. Have you ever lent your car to someone? You know that anxious feeling when he or she drives off into city traffic with your baby? In the Gospel parable today, a “man going on a journey” gives all his possessions to three of his servants. Who is that man going on a journey and gone a long time? What Tom Wright in his commentary on this passage says is Jesus Christ, who left us in charge of his Church – the salvation of the human race – went back to heaven, promising to return someday. It sure seems like he has been gone a long time. God trusts us with all his possessions and in particular his most precious possession: love.
He gives the first servant five “talents:” a talent was not a unit of money but a weight, around 100 lbs. A talent of gold today is worth $1.9 million. But as much money as that is, the money is worthless if you don’t spend it. The first two servants spend it, and spend it wisely – they invested it, and they probably had a really good time doing so. But Jesus didn’t just leave us cash. He left us the capacity to love one another. That’s worth a lot more than money – money can’t buy love as the song goes. But note that this kind of “talent” increases only to the extent that we give it away.
We call this the law of the gift: “We grow in wealth to the extent that we give it away.” You can only “have” the greatest gifts-like love, beauty, gracefulness, and friendship–by giving them away. As St Francis reminds us, “it is in giving that we receive.” The moment we try to keep these things to ourselves rather than freely sharing them, they melt through our fingers. God made us to love and be loved, but we seem to receive so little love. And that, I think, is because we don’t take the time and trouble to give love. Everybody seems to be either working or surfing the net or texting or busy with something else. We don’t take the time to listen to each other, to smile at each other.
Do you want to receive love? Then give love. In giving love, you will be filled with love. You will undoubtedly get more than you give. Do you want to be beautiful? Then see the beauty in another person. You will radiate beauty in yourself. Do you want to be joyful? Then seek to bring joy to another person. Then you will be filled with an imperishable joy.
“Give what he takes, and take what he gives, with a big smile,” said Mother Teresa. Our Lady trusted God enough to give without limits, and so with all the saints. “Give, and it will be given to you, packed down, flowing over….” May we prepare for the joy of Easter in this way, by giving without caring if we receive a return.
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week?