33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Entrusted to Create
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells us another parable. He knows that we want to know what the rules are in the Kingdom of God. What is expected of us? What is our job? Where is our place? The parable for this Sunday is about a man who is the master of people. The people work for him. The Master is going away, but he has a job for his people:
“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
When I read this, the word "entrusted" stands out for me. The Master entrusts his property to the people who work for him. The property does not belong to the people, but the Master gives it to them to take care of and to protect. We notice that the word "trust" is inside the word "entrusted." How must the Master feel about the people who work for him?
Jesus calls the property "talents." One talent is an ENORMOUS amount of money. Each person has been entrusted with an ENORMOUS amount. The Master owns so much, and it seems to please him to entrust his property to the people to take care of it.
Two of the people take his property and use it. They use it such a way that they create more. They know that this new creation also belongs to the Master. They are pleased to give it to him, and when they do, we hear how the Master feels. He says,
‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Why is Jesus telling us this? What is this all about?
Let's consider the Master. Who could he be like? He has so much property, and he entrusts it all to people. He invites them to work with him to create more. The Master delights in their work, and let's them enter into his joy.
Create more? God is the One who creates:
"In the beginning...God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1)
What about before the beginning? Before the beginning there was nothing. We cannot even imagine the darkness of that nothing. The darkest night would be like the brightest day compared to the nothing before God's Plan.
But the Plan of God begins with a tiny spark of light containing all the light that ever was and ever will be in the universe. A spark that explodes in an instant to the size of a galaxy and then expands and keeps expanding over billions of years, forming stars and planets, asteroids and moons.
And there, circling around one of the stars (not the biggest star, not the brightest star), is a little planet that is somehow just right. But "in the beginning" it is way too hot for life. There is no oxygen, only fiery heat.
In the midst of that heat, it begins to rain. Rain that sizzles on fiery rock, cooling it down. Rain that evaporates back into clouds, only to rain down again for thousands and thousands of years, filling the oceans. The water "in the beginning"--the same water that runs out of our taps now.
And there, in the oceans, after many hundreds of thousands of years, the teeniest, tiniest life begins. Bacteria form that breathe out gas, making an atmosphere so that other life can survive. Green life forms: algae, seaweed, grass, bushes. Flowers, too-- but at the very same time as the flowers, insects spring into life. It has to be this way. The insects feed from the flowers, and spread the pollen around so that fruit and seeds can form. If the flowers and insects did not arrive on the earth at exactly the same time, there would be no more life at all.
So many more types of animals begin life on this planet. Small and giant, strange and beautiful, in the water, on land, in the air--the earth teems with life.
Plants and animals, they grow and multiply. They fill the earth. They need each other. But they can only do so much.
They cannot mine coal to burn for heat.
They cannot discover the secrets of plant life that can heal and soothe.
They cannot make glass from sand. They cannot colour the glass and make stained glass windows to reflect the light from the sun.
They cannot admire a sunset.
They cannot inhale the scent of a flower and smile with joy.
The earth is waiting for someone. Someone to help it BE more.
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
God gives all this
--this ENORMOUS amount of property--
God entrusts it to us. We are invited to use it to create something more.
God delights in our work, because in creating we are joining in the work of God.
And God invites us to enter into his joy.
How shall we do this? How do we begin?
We are doing it now. We are not waiting for someone to show us how. God has already given us that someone. We are listening to him today.