Today we honour the memory of Saint Monica whom the Church sets before us as a model of patience. Her long years of prayer, coupled with a strong, well-disciplined character, finally led to the conversion of her hot-tempered husband, her cantankerous mother-in-law, and her brilliant but wayward son, Augustine who would also become a saint and one of the leading philosophers and theologians of the 4th century. Let us imitate Saint Monica in praying for the things that really matter.
More often than not, our fears are based on false expectations. That’s definitely true of the lazy servant in today’s gospel. Notice his words to the master: “I knew you were a demanding man, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter.” Somehow, he got the idea that his master was a hardhearted man who expected him to almost magically produce vast amounts of wealth from his one small talent. So instead of taking a chance, he did nothing and buried his talent in the ground.
As it happens this man didn’t understand his master at all. If the master were that exacting, he wouldn’t have been satisfied with the gains of the other two. But instead he told them: “Because you have been faithful in small matters, I will give you greater responsibilities.” He didn’t add up their returns; he just wanted to know if they put his wealth to good use. He wanted to know if he could trust them, because he had bigger things in mind for them.
That’s the way it is with our relationship to God. He expects us to bear fruit, but he doesn’t play a numbers game. He simply wants us to understand the basic principle of spiritual investment: it’s only as we give away what he has given to us that we will grow into his likeness. Only then will he give us more of his gifts.
The lazy servant feared he could never please his master, and so he didn’t even try. We do something similar when we wait for God to assign us some really important task, and ignore all the small ones he gives us every day; or when we turn aside from his prompting because we think we’re not good enough. The reality is that God is already delighted with us. If we only take our eyes off ourselves and simply start doing his will, then he will multiply our efforts with an abundant harvest.