The Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)
What has the Lord given us? To the men in his parable he gives various numbers of talents, but what does he give to us? Certainly not some monetary figure to be invested to earn simply more wealth, for he tells us that it “is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24).
The gift, which the Lord gives to us, is faith. And like the parable of the talents, he gives to each of us a differing degree or level of faith, but he calls each of us to grow in our faith, to come to an ever-deeper and ever-greater love and knowledge of him. The Lord gives faith “to each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15).
This gift of faith, which the Lord gives to us, is not something that we can “put under a bushel basket” (Matthew 5:15). It cannot be something that we bury in a hole in the ground that we have dug (see Matthew 25:18). Like every gift that comes to us from the Lord, faith is given to us to be used, to be cherished, and to be grown.
Surely none of us wants to hear the Lord say to us, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (Mathew 25:26). With the Apostles, then, we must cry out to him, “increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Just as the servants of the master were required to invest and increase the monies they were given, so, too, must we strive always to increase the faith that we have been given.
Certainly we cannot increase our faith on our own. It is the Lord who gives faith in the first place and it is the Lord who increases faith. This is why the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith and did not simply take greater faith for themselves. All faith comes from the Lord and he gives it and increases it to those who ask him in all sincerity and to those who are willing to receive it.
The Lord will increase the faith of those who call upon him in honesty and trust. He says to us, “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
But to call upon the Lord and to ask him to increase our faith means that we must already be humble enough of heart to acknowledge that we are not in control of our lives. It means that we already honestly recognize that he sustains our every breath, simply out of love. It is to feel, in the depths of our heart, the Lord calling us to an ever-deeper relationship with himself and it is to desire this relationship above all else. The one who has faith and yearns for a deeper faith, as Pope Benedict says, “lifts his eyes to the Lord and waits for a divine reaction, to perceive a gesture of love, a look of benevolence” (General Audience, 15 June 2005).
The faith, then, which we have, regardless of the size, must be safeguarded and protected and certainly not wasted. It must be used because when we live out our faith and rely upon our faith and recognize the one one from whom it comes, our faith will grow, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich” in faith (Matthew 25:29).
When in faith we call upon the rich mercy and tender love of Jesus we will not be thrown “into the darkness outside,” but we will stand before him one day and he will judge the way that we have used and received our faith (Matthew 25:30). And if we have grown our faith he will say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant … Come, share your master’s joy” (Matthew 25:23). Then we shall be with the Lord forever.