the parable of the 10 gold coins


It is a familiar story, and so easy to focus on what is done and not done with those coins.Lk 19:11-28 Two servants utilize them, and one does not, it might be best at this point to read the parable. There starts a conversation of what we are to do with the resources we are given, but don’t we then miss the point? It is not about what we do with what we receive. Its not me, and it is not we. Its about who, and that is where the emphasis should be placed.  Its is about who gave us those resources, and what were  commanded to do with them. The King, not the servants. God, not man.

He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’

Its not that the first two servants of the parable utilized their resource wisely, and that the third did not. Its that the first two were obedient to the command given them, and the third was not. Obedience versus disobedience; faith versus doubt. Two obeyed the King, and one did not. Two listened, and did as they were told. The disobedient servant describes his master as stern, yet that same servant displays his arrogance and disobedience to the future king. How does one listen?

The first reading 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31 describes the faith and devotion the Maccabee’s followers had in their God. They were willing to face their own death and the death of their loved ones rather than be  disobedient to their Gods laws. That faith is mirrored in the gospel reading, the difference being that those in Jesus’s parable are rewarded for their faithfulness. Faith has both a price and a reward.

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

Another interesting part of both the story of the disciples of the Maccabee’s and the people in the parable is the way that both their stories progress. In the parable, the commandment is given in the opening of the story. The story then shifts focus onto those entrusted with the coins, and then returns to the Kings judgement.

The Maccabees story also opens with a defiant and victorious faithfulness of the Maccabees. They defeat those that want them to defile their faith. Their faith is their strength. The problem though is that as time progresses their mission looses its focus. It shifts from Gods kingdom to the Maccabee’s nation. As time progresses they glory in their victory, and perhaps loose sight of the faith that fueled their victory. They gradually loose their focus. Its a universal human frailty, as so many prophets remind us. It is the same shift in focus that occurs in the parable. The focus starts with the King, and gradually becomes about the servants. The King though does return, and that’s worth remembering. (Keep your eye on the ball,  your eye on the prize.)

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time


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