22 November
Lk 19:11-28

Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
So he said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, 'Do business with these until I come back.' But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to rule over us.' When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.' He said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' He said to him, 'And you, rule over five cities.' Then the other came, saying, 'Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.' He said to the bystanders, 'Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.' (And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!') 'I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.'"
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

They are still on the road to Jerusalem, a journey whose significance Luke has built up carefully.  Jesus is giving a teaching for the times to come, when he will no longer be with them.  He tells the parable of the ruler who went abroad, leaving his servants to look after things.  Its bearing is all too obvious.

The point of the story was: “To all those who have, more will be given.”  It sounds very unjust; it is just like the way the business world operates.  How could spiritual practice be just like business practice?  The business world deals with things, property, money.  How could the same rules apply to inner realities, mind, spirit? 

The blunt fact is that they do, but the significance is quite different.  To the one who loves (for example), more love will become possible; to the one who uses the intelligence he or she has, more will be given; to the one who prays, more prayer will be possible.  It is by using what is given to us that we become capable of more. 

We often tell ourselves that in the spiritual life everything is gift, or grace.  But to say no more would be to make it a purely passive thing.  In reality we know that nothing deep or ‘inner’ can ever be given to us without our effort.  You would love to give your knowledge of, say, a foreign language to someone you love, but it cannot be done without their labour.  How much more your understanding, your wisdom, your experience?  Even God's gifts, poured out without measure, cannot really become mine unless I interiorise them myself.  “Can I bring about my own enlightenment?” someone asked a wise man.  “No more than you can make the sun to shine,” he replied.  “But then, why do I have to work so hard with all these spiritual practices?”  “To ensure that when the sun begins to shine you will not be asleep.”  

(How do you read those last two lines of today’s reading?  “As for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”  This verse is used by several Muslim commentators as proof that Jesus was a violent man.  They ignore the fact that it was part of a story, a parable – not an order in real life, nor an incitement.  This is how a text is mangled when it is ripped out of its context.  Christian fundamentalists take note; you often do the very same thing.) 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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