The Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss Peter and Paul (opt. Memorial)
In my vision I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come."
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness. (R./)
O praise him with sound of trumpet,
praise him with lute and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipes. (R./)
O praise him with resounding cymbals,
praise him with clashing cymbals.
Let everything that lives and that breathes
give praise to the Lord. (R./)
As the people were listening to Jesus, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, 'Do business with these until I come back.' But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to rule over us.'
When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.' He said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' He said to him, 'And you, rule oer five cities.' Then the other came, saying, 'Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.' He said to the bystanders, 'Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.' (And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!') 'I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.'"
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
The story about a personality fled abroad in order to get invested as king of his own country was already known in Jesus' time. He could well be referring to Herod the Great, who had fled for his life from Jerusalem, to Rome and won the support of emperor Augustus. When the emperor named him as king of Israel, Herod returned to Jerusalem in triumph. The parable tells how at the king's return, his supporters had to prove their loyalty to him and to answer for their behaviour during his absence. Had they been acting prudently while he was away? Had they made profit on his behalf with the money he had loaned them, using their talents well? The maxim "Use them or lose them" applies to foreign languages, but it can refer to any talent we have. We can paraphrase the parable as, "If you use your talents for the service of others you will be rewarded; but anyone who is unwilling to share their talents will be the poorer for it."
The end of the parable, about the king's enemies being killed in his presence may be an echo of what Herod actually did to his enemies on his return as king. It surely is not mean to say that God is vengeful, since the Gospel highlights the goodness of God. Our trust is in a merciful od whom we can call upon as "Abba, Father!"
Just after this parable comes the story about Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, while crowds hailed him: 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.' His almost royal entry into the city led some of his followers to think that the kingdom was coming soon. The parable intends to counter any expectation that God's kingdom was imminent. Instead, there would be a long interval between Jesus' nomination as king (the resurrection) and his return at the end of time. This interval is an opportunity for loyal service, a time to profitably use the gifts and resources we have been given.
One of the servants who had received a large loan did nothing useful with it, out of fear of losing it. Fear left him indecisive, unable to take action. It is striking how often Jesus says 'Do not be afraid.' He knew how fear can stop people from giving of their best. The opposite of faith is not so much unbelief as fear. If we rise above our fears we make it easier for others to do the same. We help and encourage each other by showing courage ourselves.