19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Life is a continuum of waiting! From the first moment of our existence in our mother’s womb until our last breath, we experience waiting in different forms. In our everyday life, we spend a lot of waiting: for the right partner to come, for the baby to grow up, for the career-opportunity to arrive, for good weather, the arrival of a friend, etc. When we wait, there is a time involved and an object of our waiting. Usually the object of waiting, either someone or a thing, in its absence creates a void in us the arrival of which brings in completion, satisfaction and joy. On the other hand, failure of the object’s arrival creates disappointment, disgust and anger.
In the context of Jesus’ culture, servants perform their duties in the service of their master without any entitlement or remuneration. In worst scenario, slaves were considered a commodity which can be dispensed, sold and even killed at the discretion of the master. In other words they live not for themselves but for their master.
Jesus’ association with His disciples has always been that of Master-servant relationship. But the difference in our relationship with Jesus is that it hinges on love and communion. Because of this, as servants we are assured of entitlement not because we deserve it but rather we are loved by Jesus the way He is loved by His Father. And as His beloved, He calls us His friends.
In the parable the master in his absence had given his servants time and tasks. Each one is given a timeline, some are short, others long depending on the mission attached therein. In this timeline, each tick of a second is a gift. Each one is also given different gifts or resources to be used in fulfillment of the entrusted tasks. Some are gifted more, some less. At the end of the parable, it is said that much more will be demanded from the one to whom a great deal has been entrusted. Then each one has to wait for the master’s return. This waiting is like no other because the object of the waiting is a “Master of surprises” not only in the sense of the unexpected and unknown time of his arrival but of his astonishing extravagance in reward to the faithful servants who are ready to meet him on his return. There is a reversal of the social order wherein the master becomes a servant and the servants are served by their master.
This parable became a reality when Jesus after the Last Supper washed the feet of His disciples. It was the shock of their lives most especially to Peter to see their Master acting as a servant.
We really do not know how much more time is left in our timeline; it is beyond our control simply because our borrowed time totally depends on God! One thing is certain though, we do not have the luxury of time to waste away for nothing. This is also true to all the gifts entrusted to our stewardship. Everything is given unto us for the purpose to which they are destined, that is for the service of others.
At the end, after having been faithful as servants, we will be rewarded beyond imagining not because we deserve it but because our extravagant Master is also the God of unending surprises!