What do these things have in common—retirement without a plan; great wealth without work; a life lived without giving? Answer: Any one of these things can spoil our lives. A few years ago, 3 nuns in their late nineties made the news because of their health and clarity of mind. Physicians studied their daily routine and found them to be mentally and physically active. They did daily crossword puzzles. They committed themselves to learn a new language every few years. They prayed the Psalms and shared the work load in the convent. After thousands of dollars spent on this study, researchers concluded what we already know: use it or lose it. This is true for our bodies and minds; it’s also true for our money. Sock away money in a savings account. What happens to it? Rarely does the interest generated in a savings account keep pace with inflation. Money left unused in the market place…under the mattress…loses spending power.
Use it or lose it is a law that applies to life in the world and life in the Spirit.
Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants. Rather than pay rent for use of the vineyard; they seize control of it. They claim it as their own possession. When the landowner sends servants to collect the rent; they kill them; then the landowner sends his son to collect the rent—they kill him too. Jesus tells this story to the religious leaders of the day and they don’t like it, because they know what Jesus means by telling it. The owner of the vineyard is God. They are the wicked tenants. The servants sent to collect the rent were the Prophets, who were all killed. The Son, is Jesus, who predicts his own death.
Israel was given a commission to be a light to all nations. God gave them the law and gifts to see this responsibility through. But rather than use the gifts—and share them, they tried to seize them for themselves. They took possession of the gifts; thought of themselves as privileged. They failed to use the gifts as God intended. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, then, a new reality was called to share the task. The Church has understood this parable; not only as our birth story, but a cautionary story…we must share the gifts we’ve been given in Christ or risk losing them.
A thought for the day: What have we been given? How do we intend to share it?