Who here is in school, now?
OK—who here was ever in school,
once upon a time?
Let’s see if you agree with me:
One of the most dread,
you can have is the mother of all nightmares:
The test, the quiz, you aren’t ready for!
Maybe it’s that dirty trick, “the pop quiz”;
Or it could be the test
you just totally forgot about—
you know that awful feeling—
maybe it hits you as you walk into class.
Or maybe it’s the test
you we’re going to study for,
Friday afternoon…make that Saturday morning…
okay, Saturday night; then, after Mass,
Okay, after the football game…
then you stay up late—
and you fall asleep! Oops!
It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it?
Our Scriptures talk about passing the test:
The first reading
describes wives who “pass the test”;
St. Paul talks about being “sober and alert”
for the test when Jesus returns
at the end of time;
and the Gospel describes the test itself.
So—if all this talk of tests
is making you feel awful…
Relax! I’ve got Good News!
Good News: are you ready?
Everyone here can pass the test!
Isn’t that Good News?
So, don’t be afraid of “the test.”
You can pass it—everyone can!
Yes, the test can come at any moment:
So St. Paul says, the Lord will come
like a thief at night”—like a “pop quiz”!
So what’s the test? How do we pass it?
For that, we look at the Gospel.
Now, I want to pause,
and correct a mistaken assumption
about this Gospel story.
Here it is:
When the Gospel talks about “talents”—
it doesn’t mean what you may think it means.
It’s referring to money!
Not ability! Money!
A “talent” was a unit of money,
perhaps $1,000 in today’s terms.
So we could translate it:
To one, he gave $5,000,
to another, $2,000, to another, $1,000.
Now: the Lord’s “test” was not,
how much money did you earn;
it’s not really about money at all!
The money—the $5,000, $2,000, $1,000—
stands for something else:
something everyone gets some of—
and that’s FAITH.
So the test is not about ability,
or how much you have,
versus you, or you, or you;
All that matters is whether you do anything!
What matters is whether you use—
you “spend”—those “faith-dollars,”
or whether you bury your faith
and never act on it.
And that’s why everyone can pass the Lord’s test.
That doesn’t mean everyone will pass;
We could stand before the Lord,
and hear those awful words—
“you wicked, lazy servant!”—
because we buried the faith
Christ put into our hearts.
Sometimes we put off acting on faith;
we let someone else in our family do it for us.
We find excuses—“someone else got more”—
or, “I was afraid.”
You may not believe you have much faith:
maybe you didn’t even get $1,000.
Maybe you got $100; $10; $1—maybe only a penny!
Whatever faith you do have—
and everyone gets some—
Spend it! Put it out there—
and watch it grow!
The “worthy wife” in the first reading
passes the test because she acts on her faith:
she makes a difference in her own home,
and in the lives of the poor and needy.
That passage is a symbol of us, the Church—
we, the Church, are the Bride of Christ—
and Christ, the Bridegroom,
entrusts his Heart to his Church!
Here he is: in this church, always here:
The Eucharist is the Heart
of his Body, the Church!
He doesn’t ask us to be smart
and explain his mystery;
he doesn’t ask us to pay
cash-money for his gifts;
He asks only faith!
Our second-graders are preparing
for their first communion;
and while they will learn things
along the way,
what Jesus asks of them
is not knowledge—head-faith,
but heart-faith: desire—longing!
don’t worry about what you know;
focus on that longing—
that hunger and thirst for Jesus!
“For to everyone who has, more will be given,
and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not, even what he has
will be taken away”—because it was left unused.
So when the Lord comes—
and he can come at any time—
he won’t ask us what we know;
how much money we have;
how smart or talented we are.
He’ll say: I gave you faith;
maybe it was only a single spark.
What did you do with it?
That’s the only test
we ever have to pass with the Lord.