Before addressing the extremely important (and rarely noted) lesson in the parable of today’s Gospel, a few notes.
First, I’d like my readers to sleep soundly Tuesday night, so I should emphasize that, in my last post, I was not (and am not) predicting calamity for this upcoming Wednesday (11/18). I was (and am) simply noting that November 18, 2020 will, in fact, be a horrendous anniversary, and we should mark it with fervent prayer beseeching the Divine Mercy upon this world.
On the other hand, we should be sure to remain vigilant, as it certainly would be unsurprising if the Chastisements were to burst forth upon the world very, very soon. When I wrote my post on Sudden Destruction (quoting Thessalonians) on Monday of last week, I had no idea that the Scripture reading for the upcoming weekend’s Mass (today, that is) would be precisely that. Noteworthy as well is the fact that this Wednesday, November 18th, is not only the 100th anniversary of legal abortion, it is also the 17th anniversary of same-sex “marriage” first becoming legal in the U.S. (via the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health), and it is the 42nd anniversary of the largest “mass suicide” in history: the Jonestown Massacre. (I added the quotation marks due to the fact that in some aspects it was more like a mass homicide.) And how fitting for these anniversaries to so align: suicide is precisely what modern society is engaging in through legalizing same-sex “marriage” and abortion. For not only are these things guaranteed to themselves destroy any society that adopts them, they also happen to constitute two of the four sins that we know, from Scripture, cry out to God for vengeance. November 18th (in 1974) was also the day that the Church came down particularly strongly against any sort of legalization of abortion. Quite a day, November 18th.
Now remember, your calling is to engage in the battle God is calling you to, and have absolutely no fear. Do you remain in a state of grace, go to confession, go to Mass, love and forgive all, do works of mercy, pray the Rosary, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and strive to Live in the Divine Will? If so, you needn’t have the slightest anxiety regarding what is coming. Even if you live in a small apartment with young children in the middle of a big city, you are nevertheless– by these aforementioned efforts– infinitely more safe than is a billionaire living in an underground bunker in the middle of nowhere.
“Courage, My daughter-courage is of souls resolute to do good. They are imperturbable under any storm; and while they hear the roaring of the thunders and lightnings to the point of trembling, and remain under the pouring rain that pours over them, they use the water to be washed and come out more beautiful; and heedless of the storm, they are more than ever resolute and courageous in not moving from the good they have started. “ – Jesus to the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. April 16, 1931
Now, on to the Parable.
The parables spoken by Our Lord in the Gospel are incredibly deep and rich treasures of grace, and one needn’t consult endless volumes of scarcely relevant “historical context” or relate them to modern “discoveries in psychology” to mine their depths — one need only consider carefully and prayerfully, in accordance with the Mind of the Church and our Sacred Tradition, what Jesus is actually saying. Let us do just that with today’s parable, as we did with the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son earlier.
“I knew you were a hard man … I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.” – The Useless Servant. Matthew 25:24-25
The useless servant not only failed to act faithfully with the talent entrusted to him — he also redoubled the guilt of his situation, thus meriting “the outer darkness”– hell– by feigning a pious sounding excuse for his faithlessness. Thus, we must do away with what one so often hears as a reaction to this Parable: “Poor servant! What he did wasn’t that bad!” Oh yes it was.
In truth (and we know that the “Master’s” analysis of the situation within this parable is the accurate one, since the Master here is analogous to God), the useless servant was not, as he claimed, afraid (which would have at least been worthy of some sympathy), nor was he merely striving to be pious with respect to the nature of his master’s temper — that is, respectful of the fact that his master was a demanding one. In truth, the Useless Servant was indeed “wicked and lazy.” (cf. Verse 26).
Similarly, what redoubled the guilt of the Pharisees was that — while in fact they were simply envious of Jesus — they always phrased their opposition to Our Lord with pious-sounding justifications stemming from their supposed religiosity:
“My daughter, the pain which pierced Me the most during my Passion was the affectation of the Pharisees. They faked justice, but they were the most unjust. They faked sanctity, regularity, order, and they were the most perverted… And while they pretended to honor God, they were honoring themselves, their self-interest, their own comfort. … [even] Pilate, idolatrous, found more light than the very Pharisees, because all he did and said did not start from pretense, but, at most, from fear. I feel more drawn toward the most perverted sinner, but not false, than to those who are good but false. Oh, how disgusted I am by one who apparently does good, pretends to be good, prays, but nurses evil and self-interest inside… they act as incarnate devils, who many times attract men under the appearance of good. …. Oh, how much safer are the temptations under appearance of sin, than those under appearance of good! In the same way, it is safer to deal with perverted people than with good people who are false.” – Jesus to the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. November 22, 1921
Now, this actual wickedness and laziness is precisely what so many of the Faithful exhibit today when they bury their talents in the ground — they refuse to engage in the battle that God is calling them to, and they go on to pretend that their reason for refusing to do God’s Will is actually God’s Will itself. Thus they become guilty not only of sloth, but also of a type of blasphemy.
Let us get very specific and consider some ways this is done today. I will not include any mere hypotheticals in the list below; I will only include tragic scenarios that I know from first hand experience are rampant, in order to admonish against anyone else likewise succumbing to the fate of the Useless Servant:
- Using teachings of the Faith itself to invert, or otherwise pervert, the simple fact that we must always “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Some do this by accepting, or even — God help them — endorsing the sinner’s sin (for example, by supporting the legal recognition of homosexual civil unions or “pro choice” politics). Others do this by failing to concretely and actually love the sinner (that is, more so than just nominally and in theory). They’ll accept “love the sinner” in principle, but nothing that they actually do can really be understood as genuine love for the sinner.
- A parish locking its doors whenever Mass is not being said, under the pretense of keeping the Blessed Sacrament safe. When, in reality, every priest knows full well that Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is infinitely more concerned with remaining open to being visited by the Faithful than He is with remaining “safe” from the risk of profanations– “safe” thanks to locked doors. In fact, these parishes are simply slothful: they care more about pleasing the insurers at all costs and about avoiding potential hassles and headaches than they care about Our Lord and His people.
- A parish going even further than what the mandates definitively require regarding Coronavirus under the pretense of “respect for our health” or of “obedience” to civil authorities who, in turn, recommend certain curtailments. Thus, these parishes cancel Mass even when it could be held, refuse to be creative in finding ways to ensure Confession is still made available, put other limits/rules/restrictions on the Sacraments that are not required, and, in a word, “give up” at the first opportunity they can find to justify their defeatism. These are the same parishes who, even in ordinary times, cancel Mass under the pretense of “prudence” when one inch of snow has fallen. Near where I live, there are parishes that still have not bothered to resume daily Mass after the lockdown… even though in New York the lockdown was lifted over five months ago. May God have mercy on the souls of those priests who have thrown into the garbage the duties of their sacred calling. In truth, all priests know full well that their sacred calling is the loftiest on earth, and saving and sanctifying souls through administering the sacraments is infinitely more important than allegedly incrementally contributing to “flattening the curve,” and when they choose the latter over the former under the pretense of “prudence and obedience,” they are perfectly incarnating the Useless Servant of today’s parable.
- A Catholic no longer going to Mass if he cannot find one sufficiently to his Traditionalist likings, under the pretense of not wanting to cooperate with liturgical violations. Today, such a Catholic can pretend to be justified due to the Sunday Obligation still being lifted in most Dioceses. But in fact, if he would have gone to Mass otherwise, yet refuses to do so because he claims to merely want to avert the “guilt” of being at a Mass with Liturgical violations, he likewise has incarnated in his life the Useless Servant. He has insanely sacrificed the infinite graces of the Eucharist for the sake of the finite (though still important) grace of Liturgical licaity.
- Catholic parents refusing to be generous with life under the pretense of respecting Church teaching on responsible parenting. As if, so long as the couple is using intrinsically licit NFP instead of intrinsically evil artificial contraception, they can justify miserliness with their chosen vocation by putting absurdly small limits on the number of children they are willing to have.
- Failing to do works of mercy (especially for the poor) and evangelize under the pretense of “avoiding occasions of sin” as if becoming a saint — as we are all called — consists simply in avoiding sin (when in fact that avoidance is only the very beginning of, only one very small part of, becoming a saint). Thus these souls do nothing with their lives but go from the cubicle at work (carefully decorated without a single obvious and evangelizing sign of the Faith), to their nice safe parish, to their nice safe family gatherings — all of which they’ve managed to pretend do not have occasions of sin within them — and they fail entirely at being the witnesses to the world that Christ is calling us to be. Others within this category fail to ever strive to do something great for the glory of God under the pretense of preferring “the little way” or preferring simply to “sanctify their work” (both of which, don’t get me wrong, are wonderful spiritualities; but are not meant to refute magnanimity). In truth, such souls simply do not want the virtue of magnanimity for God’s glory to get in the way of the likelihood of their career advancement.
- Failing to remain entirely within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy under the pretense of “submissiveness to the Pope,” when in fact Catholics know full well that the Magisterium is binding, while not every opinion of the Pope demands submission, and so submitting would today, in fact, cause one to succumb to grave errors. However, Catholics who are too lazy to be signs of contradiction in the world readily jump at any opportunity to compromise with today’s Godless culture and thus better “fit in,” and they giddily and glibly endorse paganism, homosexuality, divorce, and so many other evils, always pretending that their heretical attitude is really just a posture of submission to Pope Francis.
- Failing to be generous in almsgiving under the pretense of needing to be a good parent and support one’s family. Important indeed as that duty is, it does not exempt us from generosity, and we are not allowed to procrastinate generosity until we are millionaires.
- Condemning certain private revelations under the pretense of “orthodoxy” or “prudence,” when in fact they simply do not want to be told to pray more, or fast, or sacrifice, or give up their vanities, or consider that the present sinful Era will soon come to an end (attached, as they are, to their daydreams of Disneyworld vacations and boats on the lake) through Chastisements. Thus they mine the internet for criticisms, Googling “____(insert private revelation I don’t want to be bothered with here)_____ + heresy” and proceed to pretend that whatever they stumble upon is infallible or, at the minimum, categorically justifies rejecting any private revelation so long as Google provides a single result. At this point you’ve likely noticed that false prudence is perhaps the most popular of the feigned pious excuses for neglecting God’s Will. While prudence is very important, here is what Jesus says to Luisa about false prudence: “My daughter, how sorrowful I feel. They should have considered themselves honored, and should have boasted about and gloried in making themselves known as the ones who have this great honor to publish the truths on My Holy Will. I could not have given them a greater honor and glory than calling them to an office so high-but instead, they want to hide. …Ah! how many Divine works the human prudence has caused to fail in the midst of creatures. Like sluggards, they have reached the point of withdrawing from the holiest works.” – August 23, 1928
So use your talents wisely and zealously for the Glory of God, dear Christian. And if you ever find yourself succumbing to laziness with your talents, you better stop yourself dead in your tracks if you notice your intellect starting to conjure up pious sounding excuses for this laziness. Instead, simply repent and get back to work without missing a beat! God wants you to do great things for Him and for souls. Have you by any chance fallen into sin or other faults recently? There is a reason God allowed that:
“My daughter, sometimes I allow the guilt in a soul who loves me in order to squeeze her more tightly to Me, and to oblige her to do greater things for my glory. In fact, the more I give to her, permitting even guilt in order to endear her more to Me for her miseries – to love her more and to fill her with my charisms, the more I push her to do great things for Me. These are the excesses of my Love.”
- Jesus to the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. April 23, 1912