1 Thes 4:9-11; Ps 98:1,7-9; Mt 25:14-30
This world is caught up in conflicts beyond counting, yet the whole earth is summoned by Psalm 98 to sing a new song. Sing a song of victory. Sing a song of joy. The Lord has done wondrous deeds; the Lord has won victory. Even the inanimate creation is called to exalt. The sea and what fills it, the rivers too are to clap their hands. What hands? The mountains, too, are to shout with joy. Where are the lungs in mountains? The Psalmist and those who join him in prayer are caught up in the excitement of the Lord’s coming, for he comes to rule the earth, and he will rule the world with justice. Notice the earth and the world are not synonymous. The world is that which man controls and creates from his political genius, and the earth is all the rest of creation. They exist interdependently; one cannot have a world without an earth. Only the Lord himself can rule the world or its people with justice and equity. Until He comes, there abounds injustice and inequality throughout the world, and the earth knows the danger of such an existence. Saint Paul counseled his beloved Thessalonians to progress ever more in virtue and aspire to live a tranquil life, no matter what the world had to offer or the earth had to suffer. The Lord Jesus announces what is necessary to share our Master’s joy when he comes to rule the earth with justice. These things we learn again and again in the mystery of the Body and Blood of the One-Who-Comes among us in sacrament, so that we can wait for his coming in glory.
The Apostle knows and loves his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. He praises them for a lifestyle of fraternal charity. Living with each other and sharing the good things of creation begins here on earth with the boundless joy of the future Kingdom. Indeed, the very love of God has taught them how to love one another. As Saint John writes, quoting the Lord Jesus, “love one another, as I have loved you.” It is this kind of charity which cannot be contained and has spread all over Macedonia. However, Saint Paul knows that we may never sit back on our laurels and take it easy because we have already reached the goal of the Christian Life. Perfection is to be strived for in this world, but it is not easily strived for; nor is it easily achieved. This is all the more reason to make even more progress; all the more reason to strive, to work, to aspire for a truly tranquil life by minding our own affairs, and working with our hands as we have been instructed. This kind of peace-filled community is rare, if not utterly unknown, even in the church. However, without a demanding vision and a difficult goal, we would never grow.
One of the servants in today’s parable accuses the Master, “I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering were you did not scatter.” Four other translations use the term “hard man” in place of “demanding.” This kind of language reveals the great fear that kept this servant from simply putting his master’s money in the bank. If he could have been liberated from the fear of his master, he could have realized the safe option of using a bank. However, this servant did not wait for his master with tranquility or joyful hope. His fear was his undoing. Anyone who lives in fear will find himself in the darkness with all who wail and grind their teeth.