February 11, 2024

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 16th Sunday of Matthew

Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on October 7, 1951)

You heard a very important parable of Christ in this Gospel reading. Try to delve into it and understand it properly.

You know the content of this parable, but I will begin my homily from the end of it, from the words with which our Savior ended it: “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

If these words are heard by a person who is not spiritual, but soulful, a man of this world, he will not only not understand them, but will be indignant: how is it that he who has much will have more, and whoever has nothing will have his last taken away?

For he does not understand that we are not talking about earthly goods, the distribution of which he judges in a worldly way, and is right in his own way; not realizing that we are talking about something else.

Why doesn't he understand this? Saint Paul answers this question for us: “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, because he considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them, because they must be judged spiritually. But he who is spiritual judges all things, but no one can judge him” (1 Cor 2:14-15).

People who are soulful, not spiritual, live only a material life, without thinking about the spiritual, and cannot understand much of what is written in the Gospel of Christ. A lot of things seem foolish to them, not only incomprehensible, but even foolish, just as the Hellenes considered the preaching of the cross of Christ foolish.

They mock the Gospel, they mock the words of Christ, but why do they mock? Because they don't understand them. They judge what they cannot understand.

How should we, spiritual ones, understand these words of Christ? What does the whole Parable of the Talents say?

In the image of a rich man who distributed his money to his servants and left far away, we need to understand the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who distributed the gifts of His Divine grace to us, His servants.

He gave to everyone according to his strength and according to his understanding.

Just as from a rich man the first servant received five talents, the second - two, the third - one, i.e., silver weighed on the scales (talent is a measure of weight), so the Lord gave us the gifts of His grace, to each according to his strength and understanding, and will ask everyone for an answer at His Last Judgment, just as this rich man demanded an answer from his servants.

What gifts do we receive from God? Gifts of grace.

Grace is the good gifts of God; grace is at the same time God’s great help for the multiplication of spiritual gifts.

In holy baptism and in the mystery of chrismation performed after it, we all receive the great gifts of the Holy Spirit: we receive faith, love - faith in God, love for God, we receive a heart capable of love, which must fulfill the commandment given in the Old Testament: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

And faith and love are what are above all.

After all, this faith and love of Christ encourages you to listen to me, whom many countless others do not want to listen to.

We should all increase faith and love. Just as the servants of a rich man were supposed to give the silver they received to the merchants and multiply it through trade, so we must make a pure, holy purchase, offer God our faith and our love as a gift, multiplying and doubling them.

How can we increase faith? How can we increase love?

To increase faith, we must first of all think every day, think tirelessly about the terrible sacrifice that the Son of God Jesus Christ made for us in order to deliver us from the power of the devil.

We must think about His Cross, stained with His Holy Blood, we must think about those inexpressible sufferings that He endured on the Cross in order to save us.

Shall we not love Him with all our hearts for this? Shall we not increase our love by constantly thinking about the Cross of Christ, about the immensity of the good deeds received from Him by the perishing human race?

Our love will increase, love will multiply at the same time, love will increase in our hearts when we look at the Cross of Christ.

How else can we increase love?

Let us multiply it by showing our love for our neighbor to the greatest extent: deeds of mercy, compassion, help to our unfortunate, disadvantaged brethren, in whose image the Lord Jesus Himself stretches out His hand to us.

Increase faith, love, mercy, increase your patience, for patience is also one of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Endure everything: bear all misfortunes, all sorrows, all tribulations, all illnesses without complaining, and not only without complaining, but also with thanksgiving.

Where can we find strength to increase the grace of faith?

First of all, in the holy temple, for here your hearts will be filled with the prayer that ascends from hundreds of believing hearts.

This prayer will not pass by our hearts, it will touch them and increase the grace of faith in them.

The all-good God has given some of us the great gift of wisdom and deep intelligence.

How can we increase this gift, although not universal, but still to some extent characteristic of all of us, for we all have a mind?

You must exercise your mind by diligently and constantly reading books that contain good, deep, true things, and these are, first of all, those books that are written by holy people.

Read them with diligence, and your mind will be enlightened by the light of Christ. And the wisdom that comes from above will descend into your heart.

In trying to increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit, increase all the good things you have received from God, increase the grace that He has given you. Remember the words of Christ: “The kingdom of God is within you.”

This means that we do not need to think only about the future Heavenly Kingdom, into which may God vouchsafe us to enter after our death, but also about the fact that the Kingdom of God must have a beginning in our hearts already in this life. For in the hearts of the righteous it is revealed already during their lifetime.

Remember the other words of Christ: “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

By force, by force we must take the Kingdom of Heaven.

You need to put in a lot, a lot of effort to lay the foundation for the Kingdom of God in your heart already in this life. We must work tirelessly for God.

The vast majority of people work only to build the earthly kingdom, but we, Christians, were commanded by the Lord to care not about earthly things, but about heavenly things.

Remember what the rich man said to his servants when he returned from a distant country. When the one who had received five talents and doubled them came up, and when another came up, who had received two talents and doubled them, this is what their master said to them: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in small things, I will put you over many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Don’t we need to be faithful in small things, in everything: decisively in everything! We must always and everywhere be faithful.

And if we are faithful in little things, then the Lord will place us over many things: over the countless blessings of His Kingdom.

And what is the fate of the third servant, who received only one talent, buried it in the ground and turned out to be an unfaithful and careless servant who did not multiply what he received, what is his fate?

Oh, how scary it is!

This is what his master said about him - this is what Christ will say about us if we do not care about the increase of God’s gifts: “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents... and cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26-30).

Cast into outer darkness... What is outer darkness? This is all that huge area that is outside the Kingdom of God, which is external to it.

In this darkness, in this pitch-black outer darkness, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth of those who would dare to say to God at the Last Judgment what the third lazy servant said: “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24–25).

Oh, do we really dare to say such daring words to the Divine Judge: “I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed”?

How does He gather where He has not scattered? He scattered everywhere, sowed the gifts of His grace into all hearts.

Oh woe, woe to us, the accursed, if we turn out to be like the third careless servant! May the Lord deliver us from the terrible fate of being cast into outer darkness! Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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