Expecting the Unexpected Mt 25:14-30
I saw a TED video (http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days) featuring Matt Cutts speaking on the subject of 30-day challenges, and how they had deeply affected his life. One example was his writing a novel in 30 days, by writing about three or four pages a day. While Matt’s normal work is computer programming, he was happy that he could then call himself a novelist, never mind the fact that his novel was not very good!
Other examples in Matt’s life were climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and health improvements. The concept behind this is that in 30 day challenges, one repeats behaviors that lead to positive outcomes in areas one values greatly, and those changed behaviors linger on, as do the positive outcomes.
So these 30 day challenges are about investing in positive ways in concrete matters–something we have always wished we had done during our lives. The gospel today (Mt 15:14-30) about the talents is connected with the same thing–investing in positive ways towards a positive future in concrete matters, including money matters both corporate and personal.
What happens if we DON’T do anything about these important affairs in our lives, like our personal finances? There may well be very negative outcomes in the long run. This may be indicated in the last line of the parable, the darkness and the anguish we ultimately experience because we never faced facts, made a budget, and took positive and lasting action. Laziness, denial, or fear about making necessary changes means stagnation, paralysis, and may well lead to darkness and anguish.
But action, faith, and cooperation lead to positive outcomes, for example, with possessions. In the Parish we can see that with the Billsbury Bake off. It is a marvelous example of everyone getting involved–men baking and serving, Janet and her crew preparing the spaghetti dinner, Al Holden auctioning the cakes and entertaining the crowd; even children act as the runners for the auctioneer. And the result is $1000 for Habitat for Humanity local housing initiatives. In the capital campaign, dozens of households joined together and have covered a natural gas conversion in the church buildings that is a critically important factor in balancing the budget. So taking action, in faith, and with cooperation aimed towards positive future benefits all proves fruitful. It is just like the gospel parable of the talents.
In the parable we hear about the “talents”, which is an amount of money–a LOT of money. Now several millions of dollars effectively flow through the hands of a normal person during their working life, so God indeed gives to most of us a LOT of money. Also, we generally have more abilities than we have time to fully take advantage of. And then, the seventy or eighty years of life we have is generally enough time to achieve a lot of different things.
Taking all that together, most of us do have the same as the people in the parable–lots of time, treasure, and talent. God urges us to use all that time, talent, and treasure in a productive way–not just to be overly fearful and stagnate or become inactive and unfruitful.
Imagine if you left a manager in charge of a valuable piece of property and then you returned after many years to find they had done nothing with it, just left it lying fallow — no farming of that land, and no development of that land. You might well be angry with that manager.
So it is that the moment of truth eventually arrives. All of today’s readings (Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8, 9-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) relate to that fact—the day of truth; and that it will come in an unexpected way. At the beginning of life it seems we have a lot of time. Later on we feel we have too little time. Perhaps because we are not using our time, and abilities, and money productively and effectively, the moment of truth arrives unexpectedly.
There are 39 days to Christmas. If we do nothing on each of those 39 days, what will Christmas be like in our homes?
Our gospel passage is not only about being fruitful for our own good, but being fruitful for God’s purposes. All babies are born fully focussed on their needs for food, protection and so forth. It takes development and spiritual maturity for a person to BECOME a person who is generous and shares with others. It takes definite spiritual growth to reach the point of tithing.
Take a 30 day challenge towards something you have dreamed of doing, something to which you have for a long time believed that God is calling you. As you do so, watch in wonder as you produce worthwhile fruit in your life that will be of lasting value and joy.
In the name of Christ Amen