33rd Sunday (A)
15th November 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
It is not easy being a public servant – having to answer for what you have done or failed to do. Standards of accountability are rising all the time – which is good in the long term but it is not without its side effects.
It is an open secret that many people in certain situations abdicate their responsibility to make decisions lest they be proved wrong and be blamed. Because of the Freedom of Information Act and GDPR General Data Protection Regulation which seek to ensure the rights and privacy of the individual, together have made many people ultra-cautious in the exercise of their responsibilities even to the point of not taking notes, minutes or writing letters.
Accountability and transparency are the currency words to represent this reality. What did you do? When did you do it? What did you do about it when you got the information?
In the light of this demand for accountability the Gospel reading to-day makes for interesting reading and comparison as it too talks about rendering an account of our stewardship. How have we exercised the gifts and responsibility entrusted to us in life?
The parable of the talents is a great way of gently getting us to look at our approach to life – whether we go for the minimum disturbance and risk or whether we value what we have been given and seek to enhance it by our generosity of spirit. On one level it is turning inward while the other is facing outward. Most of us are somewhere in between.
Jesus in the parable is full of praise for the two servants who went out and took some risks – whereas he is very hard on the one who chose to bury the talent to the point of calling him wicked and lazy.
Accountability has its demands – not least to the one to whom much is given of that person much will be expected.
And judging by the 1st reading about the search for a perfect wife a great deal is expected of her. A reading of that nature is hardly politically correct to-day – but we can easily free it from its cultural conditioning by asking the same of the search for a perfect husband! The reality is that neither the perfect wife or husband exists.
The wisdom behind this reading is the desire for a companion for life whose disposition and gifts enrich one another to their mutual happiness. That journey is also an invitation to invest wisely and generously of our gift and talent for the sake of the other. How many relationships flounder in the rocks of self-obsession and lack of generosity to the point of risk?
The grace and blessing of our Christ centred spirituality is the realisation that it is in giving we come to receive. It is in forgiving we experience the balm of forgiveness. It is in giving of ourselves in life, in relationships, in family – that we come to life in a new way ourselves.