Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Sides, One Coin

Readings for Wednesday, November 17/ St. Elizabeth of Hungary:
Revelation 4:1-11
Psalm 150:1-6
Luke 19:11-28

As we near the end of the liturgical year we being to hear more and more about the end of time, the judgement that awaits us, and the King of Glory. The parable that Christ tells those around Him is one of those that is well known, but which is not often viewed so positively. "To everyone who has, more will be given; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away" is one of those scriptures that probably makes us recoil a little bit. We sort of wonder where the loving, merciful Lord had gone and who it is that replaced Him... But the fact is that while the Lord is merciful, He is also just. And this is something about which we must be reminded. Sometimes we can become rather slothful and presume the Lord's mercy upon ourselves. "Oh, the Lord understands." How many times have I given myself a 'free pass' with these few words. And yet the gospel today reminds us that if we do not use what God has given us in a way that glorifies Him and brings about good in the world, then we may well have to suffer the consequences. But to every coin, there are two sides.

There is more than a simple reminder that if we fail to use what is given that it will be taken away. There is a positive view to be seen here: that if we do well in using our gifts then we will receive even more. Here we see the joyful aspect of this passage: the great gifts that are in store for us if we walk the way of the Lord and do well in using what He gave us. Rather than a simple fear of Hell, the Lord also seeks to instill in us a great desire for Heaven. And this is the desire that will ultimately lead us to great holiness of life. If we seek to avoid Hell, we can tend toward minimalism. But if we have a genuine desire for Heaven, then the more we contemplate it, the greater we strive to attain it and the more we join ourselves to the Heavenly Bridegroom in prayer, anticipating that great feast to come.

St. Elizabeth was a queen who had this great desire for Heaven deep within her soul and it was manifested in the life that she led. Selling her possessions, she opened hospitals to care for the sick and dying, she cared for the needs, fed the hungry, and gave totally of the gifts that she had received from God. And in return, she Divine Master looked upon her with joy and bestowed upon her the gift greater than we can even conceive: the bliss of entering into Heaven. May we, like her, always put our gifts to use in building up the kingdom and glorifying the Lord through our lives.