Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 150; Luke 19:11-28)
In his Confessions St. Augustine asks, “What then is time?” He says that he knows what it is if no one asks, but when he is prompted to explain it, a sufficient answer escapes him. In the gospel today, Jesus does not attempt to explain time. But he compares it to gold coins that a rich man lends to his servants to invest shrewdly. Like the coins, time is not really a gift, much less a luxury. Rather it is an article of trade that humans are to use for doing what is good.
In Jesus’ parable, one servant returns the coin that his master loans him without any profit. He has not squandered the money but has not taken advantage of it either. If the coin were time, we might imagine him getting up in the morning, going to work, eating dinner and watching television before going to bed – a cycle that is repeated thousands of times in a long life. The person has apparently done nothing wrong. But what we might find innocuous, God finds deplorable. God would condemn the man for leading a life as worthless as Monopoly scrip because he has not served God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace.
If the judgment sounds harsh, we should take note of the last line of the passage. Jesus is ascending to Jerusalem where he will lay down his life for our salvation. We must read this as more than preparing a place for us in eternity. It also means that he will release for us the Holy Spirit so that we might take advantage of the time lent us. With the Spirit’s lead, we will follow Jesus’ way of selfless love that restores sight to the blind and sets captives free. Such acts of mercy make life – the time we have – worth living.