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Select Homily
November, 19 2017

33 Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Dr. Susan Fleming McGurgan


It sounds kind of tempting,

doesn’t it?


I mean,

given what we have seen in the stock market over the years,

and the uncertainty of the international scene, 

and the volatility in our own country,

digging a hole

and burying some cash in the back pasture

doesn’t sound so crazy,  

now, does it? 


Everyone who laughed at Aunt Edna—

(you remember Aunt Edna--

she stashed all of her money

in an old lard can under the loose floorboard)

is having second thoughts today.


Maybe Aunt Edna had the right idea,

all along. 

Maybe taking risks—

with banks,

with investments,

with demanding bosses,

with life itself—

is just too sketchy… 

too uncertain…

too dangerous.


After all,

if you hide your treasure in a lard can

or a cigar box,

or in a deep, deep hole behind the wood pile,

you know exactly what you’ve got  

and where you stand.


You may not double your investment.

You may not impress your relatives

or astonish your boss—

In fact,

the entire world may treat you

as their very own Aunt Edna…


but at least it’s safe.  


And in a world where

many people harvest what they do not plant

and gather what they do not scatter;

In a world filled with dangerous opportunities,

uncertain markets

and demanding masters—


can sometimes feel like the biggest prize of all.


But this story we read today from the Gospel of Matthew,

like so many stories in the Bible,

challenges us to turn our expectations

inside out.


This story invites us to see that

people who play the percentages—

people who hedge their bets

and hide their treasures—

people who are fearful and risk nothing,


risk everything.


Like the servants in this story,

God offers us a partnership.


The 5-talent and 2-talent servants

saw the partnership as an opportunity—

an adventure to be explored.

They knew that what the Master gave them   

could easily be lost,


invested badly—

but they took the risk anyway.


The third servant

saw the partnership as a burden—

a potential landmine to be feared.

He knew that what the Master gave him

could easily be lost,


invested badly—

and so he opted for damage control.


This servant avoided the challenge of partnership,   

only to find that playing it safe

can be the biggest risk of all.


Preachers often use this story as a launching pad

to discuss stewardship;

the concept of sharing gifts and talents,

and making the most

of what God has given us.


And when they do,   

our minds


turn towards the “bottom line”.


But stewardship is not really about money,

or pledges,

or building campaigns.

It’s not a program,

or an event,

or a theme for particular Sunday of the year. 


Somewhere along the way,

we have allowed the idea of stewardship

to be too narrowly defined.


It became a word that we use

when the roof needs repairs

or the gym is too small.


But stewardship,

like discipleship,

is a way of life.

It is a way of testifying;


and living each day in gratitude.


It is a lifestyle of receiving,

of multiplying,

of letting go,

and yes,

of taking risks.


Stewardship is a way of remembering

that we live in a world we do not create;  

we receive blessings we do not earn;

we use resources we do not own

amd we live on time that answers to a different master.

Our response to this generosity  can either be a profession of faith

or fear.


This story reminds us that we worship a God

who is willing to invest in us.

A God who is willing to make a bet

and take a risk.

We believe in a God who believes in us!

That may be the most amazing truth of all.


This story reminds us

that if we take the amazing gifts that God pours out for us,

play it safe and risk nothing in return,

we actually risk



© Susan Fleming McGurgan

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