MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on facebook angst posts, mothers learning Spanish and the Final Judgment. Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Matthew 25:14-30. For Audio, “read more” below. #GreatChristianPreaching #Sermons #SecondComingPrep
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For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/16/2014.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 25:14-30.
“I will never love again. *heartbreak*” read the Facebook post of the young girl who cared to let the rest of the world know about her pain. I know that the rule is that we ought not to share our personal angst online. Yet, the post is much different than the latest picture of a displeasurable meal, a video of another stupid human trick, or of the laundry list of ways that other human beings annoy us through their parking struggles, commuter struggles, grocery shopping struggles, their coworker struggles, and their other first world problems.
This post is different. It points to our normal and usual reaction to life. As human beings we can be very risk averse because the ending can be this bad: we put ourselves out there and now we are heartbroken.
What did she do? Did she wait a year before she finally decided that gazing at a boy at school for a year was, “really!”? Did she decide to start wearing a little makeup? Did she put the sweatpants in the drawer and start to wear skinny jeans? Did she go to a store she had never been in before to “update her wardrobe”? Did she do all the proper recognizance like a Navy Seal going after Osama bin Laden? You know, did she send a friend to his friend to find out if there was interest? Did he even know that she existed? Did he think she was cute? Day after day of writing his last name after hers, thinking of what their children would look like, what it felt like to have him hold her hand, sit next to her at the movies, and just screaming with her bestie that he actually looked her!
Could it have finally come to be that she got a text one day? Did they meet? Did she find out that he was really a jerk and didn’t know how to treat girls? Did they go to a party and he went home with someone else? Did he just not want her? Whatever it is, it hurt. It was all “because she took a stupid risk”, she must have thought. I can relate. We all can relate. I could hear this teen age girl, talking on her smart phone to her friend, saying of Alfred Lloyd Tenneson, “That guy who said, ‘It is better to have loved and lost…’, he ain’t living my life.”
My friend, we Christians are called to do the most dangerous thing in the world: we are called to love. That means a lot. It means that we forgive insults. We go the extra mile. We embrace suffering. We take rejection and persecution. We give when it hurts. It is no accident that the majority of the people who are returning from Africa with Ebola are Christians who are in mission to alleviate the suffering of people they don’t know. Loving carries with it tons of risk.
Our parable today is a typical parable of Matthew. It has rough edges that do not line up perfectly with every character in the drama of salvation history. I mean, God is not like the master who gives the talents. God is not nasty and punitive. Yet, the Master in heaven is indeed like the master in this parable in two ways.
First, the master in the story gave his stewards enough money to equal 15 years wages for every talent. If the first steward made $50,000 per year, then he was given $3.75 million dollars. The second was given $1.5 million and the last $750,000. What we couldn’t do with that kind of cash! It is a stunning thing to be given that much money.
Let me ask you, what is the value of a life? Any life, just take any life before it has amounted to anything, how much is worth? Is it worth $5, $10, millions? There are so many babies who were born when their mother had the thought, “maybe abortion.” Justin Bieber, Cher, Celine Dion, Nick Cannon, Pope John Paul II are all celebrities whose mothers told someone somewhere that they had contemplated abortion or even got to the clinic, as in Cher’s case. You may think on a certain day, “Why was I even born?” It may be bleak prospects that you face, but God has given you life. How much is a life worth? How much is your life worth? It is much more than ten talents.
My mother is 82 years old. She just started learning Spanish. All over her house are little tags on the furniture with the Spanish word for that piece of furniture. She says the same phrase over and over to me trying to learn and it has been nearly two months. She said, “I want to quit, but I think, if I can learn just one word…” She is an inspiration to me. When I think of the day and the load that is before me, I just remember what my mother said, “just one more word.” My mother, too, was told she should abort me with eight other mouths to feed. My life was too important. So is yours. God has deemed it so because you are here.
A life is incredible. A life can do so much where it is. I sometimes hate media because it has the ability to shape what kind of life we think should be lived, even though God may have put us in circumstances that could never achieve what we see on TV, in the movies, etc. The story doesn’t say that the servants were given the money in the most ideal situation. We have to notice that the Master came to them. He didn’t summon them and send them anywhere. He came to them where they were. He wanted them to do what they could do where they were with what he gave them. That is very much like God.
Sometimes, I think we fail only in failing to see our own inestimable worth. The judgment will come to us one day. We will have to face Jesus Christ and say, “this is what I did with what you gave me.” We think we don’t have anything. That is not true, we just have to learn one word every day.
Some, when they get money see opportunity, others see risk. The first two saw opportunity in the parable. They saw that if they took that money, they had plenty to do with it—enough to double their money. People who like to take risks know the thrill of the project and the thrill of the return on investment.
Those who do not like risk tend to walk in place. They do the same thing every day. They go to the same places. Drink the same things. Eat the same things. Speak to the same people. It is a comfortable life, an easy life. The person who is not a risk taker is probably not going to write on their facebook wall “I will never love again.” Instead, the person with one talent would write, “I will never know what it is like to love.”
This parable is definitely about the Day of Judgment at the end of time. It is a theme that Matthew loves to have Jesus talk about. He is constantly retelling these Jesus Judgment Day stories. The criteria is that those who took what God had given them and risked it all are the ones who got a return and are going to heaven. They will have even more. Those who didn’t do anything with what God had given them will not enter heaven and will not get more.
What are you doing with what God has given you? Let’s be honest, you are listening to an inspirational podcast, that is one thing you are doing. What else are you doing that you may not give yourself credit for doing? Are you smiling at people, donating to the poor, making sure a neighbor is being checked on, or taking a homeless person out to lunch (I have a student who did that recently).
I love to tell the story of Edna Serene, the woman who was confined to her nursing home bed and chair all day. She knew she couldn’t run the United Methodist Women or teach Sunday School like she once did. She couldn’t feed the poor or visit the sick. So, instead, she sat in her room all day and prayed through the local phone book.
Make your plan for where you are right now. What is it that you are going to do with what God has given you? Whatever it is, it is worthy and good, when you give it to the Lord. Amen? Amen.
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