As a lifelong Catholic, I've heard and read today's Gospel ... a lot. A rich guy is leaving. He calls his three trusted servants together and gives each of them money. "I trust you will care for this."
The first two double the money, returning twice the original amount to their master. The third, who has the least amount, was worried about losing the money he had, so he buried it. Kept it safe. And returned exactly the same amount back to the master upon his return.
What I never got was why the last guy was punished. He didn't lose the money, he didn't gamble it away. He kept it safe, right?
Today, we had a Paulist priest celebrate Mass with us, Fr. Costanza. He said a beautiful Mass, and his homily - well, after decades, I now have a handle on this parable.
Father pointed out that the first two servants saw their master as good and fair. They knew that he would treat them well, regardless of how much they were able to return to him. What mattered is, they wanted to please their good master by trying their very best with what they were able to do with his treasure.
The third servant - he acted out of fear. He saw his master as demanding, unfair. He wasn't going to take any chances - he feared his master's wrath.
Father pointed out that God gives each of us gifts. We can do whatever we choose. We can use those gifts extravagantly, hoping that we can return these gifts back to our Master with a grateful heart. Or we can act out of fear of a harsh and judgmental Master, one who will punish us no matter what.
I thought about those five talents given to the first servant, and my five kids. I hope that Dear Husband and I invested all we had into them. We recognized they were a gift from God, not truly ours. But God had given us responsibility for them.
They are young adults now. I don't care for all their choices, but they have to answer for themselves now. I love and pray for them. I look forward to having them around my dinner table at least once a month, and seeing them as often as we can get together.
No, they are not who I want them to be, but they are who they are. We could never impose our will onto them - they have to choose God. I hope they will.
In the mean time, I pray to God for each of them. And I hope He knows that I am, with all my faults and sins, trying to be a good and faithful servant who wants to give back more and better than I received. Amen? Amen.