Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Work of a Lifetime

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan
While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.  So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.  He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’… (W)hen he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading.  The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’  He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!  You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’  Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’  And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’  Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’  He said to him, ’With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant.  You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank?  Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’”  (Luke 19:11-13, 15-23)

O Lord, guide me throughout my days as I seek to shed what is not of you and to be conformed to the image of your Son.

Sometimes where a story is placed in the Gospels tells us almost as much as the content of the story itself.  Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem for the final time.  In the verses immediately preceding today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encounters the tax collector Zacchaeus.  He tells him to come down out of the tree.  Jesus says he needs to spend the night at his house. Zacchaeus’ encounter with the Lord is life-changing.   He is so transformed that he promises to give half of all he owns to the poor and to pay back 400 percent of any money he’s extorted from taxpayers along the way!

It’s for Zacchaeus’ benefit and ours, as well, that Jesus then goes on to tell the combined stories of the king who doesn’t return quickly from his journey and the parable of the 10 gold coins.  It’s wonderful that the tax collector so desires to follow Jesus and to extricate himself from the things of the world, but saying he’s going to and doing so are two different things.  Giving up the ways of this world to follow the Way of the Lord is the work of a lifetime.

We live awaiting the return of our King.  Just as the servants in the story are entrusted with gold coins and asked to do something with them while their master is gone, so God commissions each of us to grow spiritually, to be in relationship with God in prayer, to shed whatever ties us to the world and keeps us from wholeheartedly embracing the life of discipleship, to become more Christ-like in our dealings with others, and to sow the seeds of the Gospel wherever we go.

However, some of us are like the servant who hides his gold coin.  Where Zacchaeus begins is where we stop - with all kinds of good intentions.  Somehow we never get around to daily prayer and we remain fairly attached to the things and values of this world.

As Jesus tells the story, the “level” of spiritual growth we attain doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the seeking and striving to grow in our faith and our dealings with all God’s people.  The King in the parable rewards any gain or growth. 

Looking back over your Fourth Day as a Cursillista, how have you grown spiritually?  How has Cursillo aided you in your spiritual journey?

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