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As the crowds were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, “Do business with these until I come back.” But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to rule over us.”
‘When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, “Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.” He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.” Then the second came, saying, “Lord, your pound has made five pounds.” He said to him, “And you, rule over five cities.” Then the other came, saying, “Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” He said to him, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.” He said to the bystanders, “Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.” (And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten pounds!”) “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.” ’
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
Today’s reading contains some words that often cause confusion and upset: to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
In our modern world, a world where we have developed a spirit of social justice, this message seems counter-cultural. There are so many in the world who already have nothing. Surely it is our Christian duty to ensure that their standard of living is raised, rather than reduced even further. Surely the words we read today are a manifesto that supports exploitation and injustice on an apocalyptic scale. But … Jesus is not talking about money, or land, or food. Jesus is talking about spiritual wealth and spiritual poverty.
Today’s reading offers us a parable that, on the surface, seems to be about our duty to work hard for the benefit of the powerful and wealthy. However, this is not its true message. Instead, Jesus is talking about the productivity of our faith.
Jesus knew that the time was coming for his death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus knew that he would be passing the responsibility of bringing others into a closer relationship with God on to those who claimed to be his followers. The ‘pounds’ referred to in Jesus’ parable are people, human souls. Jesus is speaking of those who are entrusted with bringing others to God, and how productive they have been in their evangelism.
Most who call themselves Christian understand the call to love and serve in humility. However, many of those ‘Christians’ live out their life of faith in secret, keeping it as though it were some private treasure that should be protected from the gaze of others. That is absolutely not what Christians are called to do! We are called to share our faith in a way that brings others into a full and joyous relationship with God. In fact, rather than keeping our faith as a precious secret, we are called to shout it from the rooftops! We are called to bring others into the life of faith as they come to develop their own relationship with Jesus … they are called to make the biggest profit possible from that which has been entrusted to them.
For those who fail in this matter, the future is bleak. Those who fail to help others on the path of faith are those who have nothing, those from whom even what they have will be taken away.
Jesus is making it clear that our call to love and serve in his name is serious. It is not a matter of choice. It is a duty and an obligation. Let us pray that we might never hesitate to fulfil the duty and obligation that have been laid upon our shoulders. Let us pray for the strength and the courage to lead others into the joy we know as faithful Christians in this challenging world.