Homily on the Talents – Evangelize or Gnash Your Teeth

[Alas, there is no recording of today’s homily.]

St. Matthew 25:14-30

St. Cyril of Alexander (On Evangelism). The man who is the landowner is actually the Creator and Lord of all. The Word compares the time the landowner spends away from home in the parable to either the ascension of Christ into heaven or at any rate to the unseen and invisible character of the divine nature. Now one must conceive of the property of God as those in each country and city who believe in him. He calls his servants those who according to the times Christ crowns with the glory of the priesthood. For the holy Paul writes, “No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God.” He hands over [his property] to those who are under him, to each giving a spiritual gift so that he might have character and aptitude. We think that this distribution of the talents is not supplied to the household servants in equal measure because each is quite different from the other in their understanding. Immediately they head out for their labors, he says, directly indicating to us here that apart from the procrastination of one they are fit to carry out the work of God. Surely those who are bound by fear and laziness will end up in the worst evils. For he buried, Jesus says, the talent given to him in the earth. He kept the gift hidden, making it unprofitable for others and useless for himself. For that very reason the talent is taken away from him and will be given to the one who is already rich. The Spirit has departed from such as these and the gift of the divine gifts. But to those who are industrious an even more will be presented.  Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (pp. 222–223). InterVarsity Press.

Parable on the Talents (Treasure)

God is trying to get us to understand what life is like. Several parables in a row. Three points.

Point One: There are things we are supposed to be doing right now.

  • The steward was supposed to keep the house ready.
  • The Virgins were supposed to have oil for their lamps.
  • The servants in this parable were supposed to gain more treasure.
  • We are supposed to be caring for the needs of the hungry, thirsty, and naked.

Point Two: We are going to be judged based on how well we do those things

  • Good steward vs. the bad steward who runs his house poorly will be punished (weeping and gnashing)
  • Good virgins vs. the foolish Virgins were not allowed into the feast.
  • Good servants vs. the lazy servant who buried his talent is punished (weeping and gnashing)
  • Good (care for the needy) vs. if we ignore the needs of the needy, we will go into everlasting punishment.

Point Three: This really is about us. We have a job to do and we need to do it.

  • Focus on Parable of the Talents: St. Cyril of Alexandria – it’s about evangelism!
  • How many talents did the disciples have after Pentecost? Not many! Faith and hard work.
    • How do you think their works will be judged? How did they do?
  • How many talents did our predecessors have as a parish? Not many! Faith and hard work.
    • How do you think their works will be judged? What did they do with what they had? Was the Gospel proclaimed? Look at the indicators: baptisms, chrismations, weddings, yes, even funerals.
  • How many talents do we have? Do you think we more or less that the disciples? Than our predecessors here?
    • We are blessed in abundance. Money (YES! Prosperity abounds in our country!), Beautiful Cathedral. Group of hard workers.
    • But how are we doing? Why aren’t we doing better?

Are we set up to spread the Gospel? We have food, water, and baptismal garments in abundance here. But are we getting them to those in need? Because there is a spiritual famine and drought out there!

Here is some interesting data:

New people started coming to church because:

  • 2% by Advertisement
  • 6% by the Pastoral Invitation
  • 6% by organized evangelism campaign
  • 86% invited by friends or relatives (other research has this lower but it is still strong)

And yet only 2% of church people invite an unchurched person (Thom Ranier, 2003)

We have the treasure. We have our instructions. Let’s not end up weeping and gnashing our teeth; let’s spread the love and fellowship that we have found in Christ here at St. Mary’s with our friends and family and with all our neighbors.