In my vision, I, John, saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, ‘Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future.’ With that, the Spirit possessed me and I saw a throne standing in heaven, and the One who was sitting on the throne, and the Person sitting there looked like a diamond and a ruby. There was a rainbow encircling the throne, and this looked like an emerald. Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them I saw twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads. Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God. Between the throne and myself was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal. In the centre, grouped round the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind. The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle. Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing:
‘Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
he was, he is and he is to come.’
Every time the animals glorified and honoured and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honour and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.’
While the people were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they imagined that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there. Accordingly he said, ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and afterwards return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. “Do business with these” he told them “until I get back.” But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, “We do not want this man to be our king.”
Now on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and said, “Sir, your one pound has brought in ten.” “Well done, my good servant!” he replied “Since you have proved yourself faithful in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities..” Then came the second and said, “Sir, your one pound has made five.” To this one also he said, “And you shall be in charge of five cities.” Next came the other and said, “Sir, here is your pound. I put it away safely in a piece of linen because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you pick up what you have not put down and reap what you have not sown.” “You wicked servant!” he said “Out of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew I was an exacting man, picking up what I have not put down and reaping what I have not sown? Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest.” And he said to those standing by, “Take the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds.” And they said to him, “But, sir, he has ten pounds . . .” “I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
“But as for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.”’
When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
To everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away
There is an old folk tale which tells the story of an old Cherokee, who says to his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The grandson thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
In today’s Gospel story, we see Jesus narrating the parable of a noble man and his servants. Before leaving for a distant country, to be appointed as King,he gives his servants one pound each and tells them to do business with it. Of the ten servants, we learn of one who goes out and earns ten more, while another earns five more. And then we have the last servant who, instead of doing business, decides to hide the one pound entrusted to him instead, for fear of his Master as an “exacting man”. I have always found this parable to be a challenging one. In the parable, the noble man refers to Jesus. Why would he, our Lord of Compassion, regard the frightened servant as a “wicked one” for having failed to invest and multiply his one pound?
The difference lies in the attitudes of the servants. The first two had reacted with faithfulness to the noble man’s command. They invested the little that they had been entrusted with and did not allow doubt or fear to hamper them. They persevered and carried out business on behalf of their master in a town where he was clearly resented by his compatriots and openly renounced as King. It was in this climate of uncertainty (as to whether the noble man would return as King) and hostility that the servants dutifully carried out their master’s bidding. They wavered not in the face of their circumstances, but focused instead on living out the noble man’s command. The third servant, however, was not as steadfast. Frozen by fear and hampered by doubt, he chose instead to put away his one pound, hidden safely in a cloth, out of fear that it would not multiply due to his master’s enemies. He wavered and eventually did nothing, despite the noble man’s unequivocal command.
By this parable, Jesus probably intended to encourage his disciples and remind them especially after his death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven, that although the Kingdom of God is not a physical one (as they had envisioned it to be) but a heavenly one, it is one which they had to carry on building here on Earth. He is reminding them to be like the faithful servants who forged on, even in a climate of uncertainty and hostility, to share the Gospel of hope and the Good News of God’s love and salvation for mankind.
What does this mean to me? Today’s parable challenges me to re-examine my attitudes and my thoughts as a follower of Christ, especially in the way I approach God and the people around me: do I allow myself to be like the fearful servant, hampered by circumstances and living in fear and doubt of God’s faithfulness? Do I allow anger, anxiety and resentment to stop me from loving God and from sharing His love with others? Do I prevent God from using me as his instrument?
Or do I choose to feed my mind on God’s word and hold fast to his promises instead, remaining steadfast in faith, even in the face of uncertainty? Do I choose to cultivate a grateful heart by thanking and praising God for all that I have everyday, even when my circumstances do not appear to change? Do I choose to be compassionate towards others and treat them with God’s love, in spite of my own afflictions?
My brothers and sisters, like the old Cherokee tale, what we choose to feed within ourselves will grow in the end. We become what we feed. May we pray for the wisdom to choose wisely.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for your loving patience and guidance in our lives, even when we have been blind.
Prayer: We pray for the grace to remain faithful as your servants, to spread your love and share the Good News.