Metropolitan Moses - 6th Sunday of Saint Matthew
A Sermon on the Gospel for Sixteenth Sunday of St Matthew
By Metropolitan Moses
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, in today’s parable of the Talents we hear the words that every Christian desires to hear when they stand before our Lord Jesus Christ,
Well done thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matt 25:21)
What joy past telling is in store for the man or woman who hears these words! Anyone who has been moved by the Gospel message and come to a perception of spiritual things would trade everything they have in the world this instant in order to hear these words and enter into that future age! But that is not what our Christ asks of us. He gives us a talent and, as it were, He Who is everywhere present and fill all things seems to depart and leaves us to the exercise of our free will one day at a time for all the years of our life.
In today’s parable our Savior gave one man five talents, to another two talents and to another one talent, “to every man according to his ability.”
What then is a talent? In the Greek and Roman world a talent signified a weighted sum of money. We, each and every one of us have been given a “something” to trade with for our salvation according to our ability.
Our beloved Vladika Andre of Spring Valley explained that this talent, this something is “the ability given us in the Holy Mysteries to fulfill the greatest of the commandments, that is love of God and love of our neighbor.”
Let’s stop and think about what Vladika Andre has said. We have our natural abilities, but Christ has entrusted us with something more in order for us to trade in such a way that we will hear those longed for words, ‘well done thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Our Lord grants us His grace and the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist so that through these gifts we are enabled to learn of divine love. This love of God and love of our neighbor is a selfless love, a self-sacrificing love. It is a love that forgives enemies.
Saint Justin Popovich once wrote, “…All of the truths of Orthodoxy are nothing other than different aspects of one Truth, the God-Man Christ.”
Thus, to trade with one’s talent is not merely to work works. Thus to trade with one’s talent is first and foremost to commune with the God-Man Christ.
As Saint Paul said
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I give away all my possessions to feed the poor and though I surrender my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing. (1Cor 13:1-3)
If we commune first with the God-Man Christ, then, through Him we can begin to trade, that is we can begin to understand and experience Christ-like love. Saint Paul described this love:
Love is long-suffering, is kind; love doth not envy; love doth not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, it doth not behave itself unseemingly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, love never faileth. (1Cor.13:4-8)
To begin to experience and practice this type of love takes time and prayer and the grace of God and the most powerful way our God grants us increase is through the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
Two of the men in the parable understood and sought to commune with Christ in this life and through this communion they understood self-sacrificing co-suffering love and they made spiritual gains. Alas, one of the men understood nothing and did not seek to learn and made no progress and then when he had to make an account of his life he said:
Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not scattered: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast what is thine. And his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with interest. (Matt 25:24-30)
Many Holy Fathers comment on this as an admonition to those who have no spiritual virtues to save themselves by putting their money into the hands of the poor.
Holy Scripture contains many spiritual truths and Vladika Andre has given us the insight that when our Savior said that this man should have “put his money to the exchangers” He is telling us that in order to gain increase we must draw near to Him, draw near to the Christ of God and partake of His Body and Blood in order to work any of the works of the love of God and man that upon His return our Savior can receive of His own with interest.
But a man who according to his own eyes has received little from the Lord and is a Christian in name only and does not live a spiritual life or partake of the Eucharist or show mercy to his fellow man will hear:
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. When He had said these things, He cried out, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Let us not be consumed by the tears of gnawing regret in the future age. Let us seek to commune with Christ and be strengthened and illumined that through Him we will learn of real love, divine love and trade in this life in order to hear those sought for words, “well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy Lord.” Amen.