01-12-2008 - Traces, n. 11

Benedict XVI

The Most Precious
Gift of All is Jesus
Himself, Present and Alive in Our Midst

The Angelus of Benedict XVI, St. Peter’s Square Sunday, November 16, 2008

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana - Città del Vaticano 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Word of God this Sunday, the second to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, invites us to be vigilant and hardworking, in the expectation of the Lord’s return at the end of time. The Gospel passage recounts the famous “Parable of the Talents,” related by St. Matthew (25: 14–30). The “talent” was an ancient Roman coin, of great value, and precisely because of this parable’s popularity it became synonymous with personal gifts, which everyone is called to develop. In fact, the text speaks of “a man going on a journey [who] called his servants and entrusted to them his property” (Mt 25: 14). The man in the parable represents Christ Himself, the servants are the disciples, and the talents are the gifts that Jesus entrusts to them. These gifts, in addition to their natural qualities, thus represent the riches that the Lord Jesus has bequeathed to us as a legacy, so that we may make them productive: His Word, deposited in the Holy Gospel; Baptism, which renews us in the Holy Spirit; prayer, the “Our Father” that we raise to God as His children, united in the Son; His forgiveness, which He commanded be offered to all; the Sacrament of His Body sacrificed and His Blood poured out; in a word: the Kingdom of God, which is God Himself, present and alive in our midst.

A treasure to spend
This is the treasure that Jesus entrusted to His friends at the end of His brief life on earth. Today’s parable stresses the inner disposition necessary to accept and develop this gift. Fear is the wrong attitude: the servant who is afraid of his master and fears his return hides the coin in the earth and it does not produce any fruit. This happens, for example, to those who, after receiving Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation, subsequently bury these gifts beneath a blanket of prejudice, beneath a false image of God that paralyzes faith and good works, thus betraying the Lord’s expectations. However, the parable places a greater emphasis on the good fruits brought by the disciples who, happy with the gift they received, did not keep it hidden with fear and jealousy but made it profitable by sharing it and partaking in it. Yes, what Christ has given us is multiplied in its giving! It is a treasure made to be spent, invested, and shared with all, as we are taught by the Apostle Paul, that great administrator of Jesus’ talents. The Gospel teaching that the Liturgy offers us today has also had a strong effect at the historical and social level, encouraging an active and entrepreneurial spirit in the Christian people.

Good servants
The central message, however, concerns the spirit of responsibility with which to receive God’s Kingdom: a responsibility to God and to humanity. This attitude of the heart is embodied perfectly in the Virgin Mary who, on receiving the most precious gift of all, Jesus Himself, offered Him to the world with immense love. Let us ask her to help us to be “good and faithful servants” so that we may one day enter “into the joy of our Lord.”