FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
RISKY NOT TO RISK!
When I first picked up the missal to prepare for this homily, I saw the first reading and I said, “Wait, what! Am I expected to have a wedding at this Mass? Why is the first reading sounding like a reading meant for a wedding Mass?” Next, I began to wonder if there was any connection between the first reading and the gospel passage. It does not seem like there is any connection at first glance. The first reading is all about the value of finding a worthy or virtuous wife. But before I ran into the conclusion of no connection, I remembered that one theme that runs through the bible from Genesis to revelation is the theme of marriage. In the beginning, in the book of Genesis, there was the marriage of Adam and Eve. The prophets have many depictions of Israel as espoused to God. Paul talks about the Church as the bride of Jesus Christ. At the end of the bible in the book of Revelation, we are reminded that all our struggles here on earth are geared toward being worthy to be part of the wedding feast of the Lamb.
In Chapter 24, Matthew predicted the end time, the beginning of the wedding feast of the Lamb and the severe judgement awaiting the unfaithful at the second coming of Jesus. Now in Chapter 25, he is calling on members of his community to remain faithful, to shun every form of fear and timidity, and he is challenging them to take risk with all the talents that God has given to them. He does this with the parable of the man who gave talents to his servants before going on a journey. Two of the servants traded with their talents while one buried his own talent. The man returned from his journey and rewarded the two who traded with their talents and he punished the one who buried his talent.
We may want to make a case for the man who buried his talent that he had only one talent while the others had five and two, but remember that the rewards and punishment were not based on how much gain they made, but by how much effort they put in. The truth of the matter is that for what people don’t want to do, they will always find an excuse; but for what they want to do, they will always find a way. This current pandemic for example has been an excuse for some people to expose the evil that is hidden in them, while at the same time, it has been an opportunity for some other people to show the angel and the talents that are hidden in them. Situations do not change people; situations reveal who people are.
The woman described in today’s first reading is a wife. This is what some would have described as a “common house wife.” But look at the fruit she bears with that talent of being a wife. She is more than pearls to her husband. Outside of her home, she reaches out to the poor and the needy, she is so hard working that her works speak for her at the city gates. The talents the three men got in the gospel were not meant for them to compete with one another. They were given the talents so each may trade based on his own ability. Husbands and wives are not in marriage for competition. Each is to be the best of who God has created him or her to be for the good of the marriage. Your talent should not be a threat to me, and mine should not be a threat to you. There is always enough space in the sky for any bird that wants to fly. If each one of us grows to become the best version of himself or herself, the world would be a better place.
Earlier on, we made up an excuse for the man who buried his talent, we presumed he did it because he got the least number of the talents. Now, let us hear him present his own defense. He says, “Master, I knew you were a demanding person… so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.” So, fear was his excuse, fear was his obstacle, he was afraid to take any risk, and so he went and buried the talent. It is easy to let fear govern our lives. Fear is a big obstacle to success. People fear to grow, people fear to try something new, people fear to take up challenges. One of the challenges pastors face when they resume in a new parish is that committee that comes to remind them, “Father, let us tell you how we have been doing it. We want it to remain as it was in the beginning.” There cannot be any meaningful growth with such attitude.
Everything is usually impossible until someone does it. Give it a try. Maybe history has not been made yet because you are afraid to risk the first step. So what have you been afraid of doing all the while? Put fear aside and take the risk. Take the risk of going back to school, take the risk of rewriting that test that you failed. It does not matter how many times you failed, people will forget, they will only remember the success. Take the risk of starting your own business with the little money you have now. Take the risk of apologizing to that person you offended, take the risk of forgiving that person who has refused to apologize to you. Take the risk of looking at life from another person’s point of view. Remember that empathy is not the same as endorsement. Take the risk of congratulating the one who has done something great. Take a risk with that talent you are hiding; if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Remember, life is God’s gift to us, what we do with it is our gift to God, and our reward will be based on what we do with this life. It is a risk not to take risks in this life. May God continue to bless the works of our hands until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.