Invest or Be Divested
The word ‘invest’ has its origin in Latin and means ‘to clothe in.” When a person is invested he or she is dressed in the official garb of a particular office. A person’s office is identified by the clothes he or she wears, e.g., soldier, police, doctor, nurse, priest, executive, king, mayor, student, etc. To invest is to vest in what identifies us, or as the dictionary describes it, “to array in the symbols of office or honour”. Investment always indicates what we think will gain us more than we have. No one knowingly bets on a loser. Just as we can invest in something so also we can divest or be divested of something. To divest is to rid our self or be deprived of the clothes or symbols of office or honour.
In the Parable of Talents (Mt 25:14-30) Jesus speaks about investment and divestment. A man called his three servants and gave them money to invest in his behalf. He gave five talents to one, two to another, and one to a third. Upon his return he asked for a return on their investment. The men who received five and two talents invested the money and doubled it. The third handed back what he was given. The owner praised the first two men and condemned the third describing him as a “wicked, lazy servant!” (Mt 25:26) Jesus closes the parable warning that, “Those who have will get more until they grow rich, while those who have not, will lose even the little they have.” (Mt 25:29) Those who have will get more because they’ve invested what they had. Those who haven’t are the ones who didn’t invest and so lost what they were given initially. The message is that what God gives us is either invested or lost. The difference between the first two men and the third is the difference between acting out of faith and acting out of fear. Faith moves us to invest while fear blocks us from taking a risk. There are two kinds of fear: Fear of the Lord and fear of failure. Fear of the Lord motivates us to invest our self in His mission. Fear of failure motivates us to bury what we have and do nothing with it. Fear of the Lord makes us productive while fear of failure renders us useless, lazy servants. Faith makes us generative while fear makes us stagnant. The third servant buried his talent and so did no good for anyone including himself.
Jesus Christ is God’s investment in us through His Church. Like the man in the parable, He gives us gifts to invest in His behalf. All He asks of us is to trust Him by investing what He’s given us so it can double in value through serving others. The Book of Proverbs gives us an example of the good wife who invests what God has given her in her husband, family, and those in need. “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labours, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” (Prov 31:10-31) This woman concerns herself with hospitality rather than charm and physical beauty. Hospitality has its own charm and beauty. Her “fear of the Lord” motivates her to invest her gifts rather than bury them, resulting in the Lord’s recognition of her as a blessed woman. As the Holy Spirit reveals, “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favoured.” (Ps 128:1-2) St. Francis reminds us that, “It is in giving that we receive and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.” What we have is what God invests in us; what we do with what we have is our return on our investment in Him.
As we’re only two more weeks from the end of the Church’s liturgical year St. Paul calls our attention to the fact that our time for investing is running out. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he reminds us that, “The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night … like labour pains on a pregnant woman … Let us stay alert and sober.” (1 Thess 5:1-6) The “Day of the Lord” for each of us is the day we die, which can come when we least expect it. How do we stay alert and sober in preparation for that day? By investing what God has given to us in His mission, namely to introduce Jesus to everyone as the world’s Saviour. Like the people in Jesus’ parable, God has given talents, gifts, to each of us. It’s our responsibility to identify, develop, and use them to spread Christianity by promoting Jesus’ gift of freedom, justice, peace, and charity. If you and I don’t invest our gifts we’ll be divested of everything and consigned “to the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 25:30) The really sad part is that if we don’t invest in Jesus’ mission we’ve no one to blame but our self. Therefore, identify what God has given to you and invest it lest you be deprived of all happiness forever. (frsos)