33rd Sunday A – Jesus’ Last Parable
It was common for the rich to leave their assets in the hands of agents and stewards while they fled the winter cold in favour of the warmer climes of Egypt and the Gulf. The wealthy man in the parable parcelled his money out to his three agents. The money was not theirs to do with it as they pleased. They were to use it for the master’s benefit in his absence. The three stewards represent us and the money represents the gifts and grace of God.
‘The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all its peoples‘ – Psalm 24. The heavens and the earth are God’s gift to us. Pope Francis conferred a new name on planet earth: He calls it ‘Our Common Home’ (1), and he reminds us that we have the planet on loan from the Creator. It’s a gift to be used for the common good, the proper wellbeing of all, and shouldn’t be plundered for the benefit of the few.
We are stewards of God’s gifts whether they be the talents and opportunities we have in life, or the Earth and its environment. Climate change is a sign that we have mismanaged the gift of planet earth and its limited resources. A piece in the current issue of ‘The Furrow’ by Irish ecologist Sean McDonagh spells out in simple language how ‘humankind is causing massive destruction to all life on Earth’ (2) The remedy for this situation, says French economist Serge Latouche, is to ‘consume less, live more simply…. By working less compulsively and fewer hours, and consuming and wasting less, more people can be put to work and the planet itself can breathe more easily’ (3)
The first two servants in the gospel were clear about where their future lay. They grew the gifts they were given and were rewarded. What about ‘growing’ the gift of our common home? What must we do to develop a sustainable lifestyle and leave a beautiful, vibrant and fruitful planet for the next generation? Francis would have us drop the idea that we are masters of nature and learn instead to live in harmony with it, no longer treating it as predators, but as good servants and stewards.
Happiness depends on our ability to consume, on healthy relationships, on living well in a family, having friends, working in a healthy environment. Sean McDonagh, echoing Francis, reminds us that when economic growth exceeds a certain limit the quality of air, water and social relations corrodes and is destroyed. As Robert F. Kennedy said more than fifty years ago: ‘GDP measures everything except what is important in life.’
Fr. QQ – 11/11/2020
(1) Pope Francis, ENCYCLICAL ‘Laudato Si,’ May 2015
(2) Sean McDonagh, THE FURROW, November 2020, pp 621-628
(3) Serge Latouche, FAREWELL TO GROWTH