Jesus said, “A member of the nobility went to a faraway country to become its ruler for a time. Before leaving, the noble summoned ten overseers and gave them each ten minas – about three years’ wages – and said to them, ‘Invest this until I return…’
(Upon return) “The noble sent for the overseers to whom the money had been given, to learn what profit each had made. The first came and said, ‘The sum you gave me was doubled for you.’ ‘Well done,’ the noble replied. ‘You showed yourself capable in a small matter. For that you can govern ten cities.’ The second came and said, ‘Your investment has netted half again as much.’ The noble said, ‘Then you’ll govern five cities.’ The third came in and said, ‘Here’s your money; I hid it for safekeeping. You see I was afraid of you because you are notoriously exacting. You withdraw what you never deposited. You reap what you never sowed.’
“The noble replied, ‘You worthless lout!...’ The noble said to those standing around, ‘Take the money from this one and give it to the one who had the ten minas.’”
Luke 19:12-13, 15b-22, 24
|Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene by Simeon Solomon|
As a child I cringed at this parable. I knew that given the same circumstances I would do just as overseer number three did. Hide the money and not risk losing it. Of course, at that time I thought the overseers had been put into a double bind. Damned if I don’t grow the money. Damned if I diminish the account.
This double bind was more of a projection of my home dynamics than how the parable actually reads. My mother, from time to time, liked putting me into circumstances that no matter what I did, gave her a chance to belittle me. So, yes, I would have done just as overseer number three did. Hide it and live in fear of the consequences.
So went my projection. The parable itself gives no hint that the overseers were in a double bind. In fact the parable quite clearly states the issue is investing and taking risks. It teaches us to take risks for that is the better valor to playing it safe.
This puts me in mind of The Paradoxical Commandments developed by Kent Keith. Among them are: People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway (Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World).
As queer people of faith we live in the paradox of being condemned in the name of the God we serve. Let us take the risk and serve anyway.