A Spiritual Narrative
One day the owner of a farm said to his three servants: “I must leave for a while, and so I entrust each of you with a flock of my sheep, with a case full of my precious jewels, and with a plot of my land, each bearing a crop of wheat. Take care of what I entrust to you and use it wisely, I shall return after the harvest.” Now the first servant was hard working and very wise. He tended faithfully to his sheep and in his spare time he crafted various settings in order to make jewellery from the jewels. He also too great care of his crop, weeding it and protecting it from fires. The second servant was not as hard working as the first, since he would spend almost half of each day in the woods watching and playing with shadows. Nonetheless he tended to his flock every day and managed to polish and shape some of the jewels in his spare time. Most of his crop was well kept, yet parts of his crop had perished from overgrown weeds; and one section had been scorched, yet not totally destroyed, by a fire that came whilst he was in the woods. Now the third servant was a slacker and a fool, for only a couple of times did he tend to his flock; and he never bothered to do anything with the jewels entrusted to him. In fact this servant spent almost every hour of the day, watching and playing with shadows in the woods. Thus the first fire that came burnt his entire crop to a cinder.
Now when harvest was at its end the owner of the farm returned. Calling the first servant he said to him: “Wonderful! The flock I entrusted to you is in an even better condition than when I left it; and their number have increased two fold! The jewels are not only polished but have been crafted into jewellery so that their value is now immensely greater than when I placed them in your care. And I can see that the crop I placed in your care has yielded a full and abundant harvest, and that not a single grain has been lost!” Then embracing the first servant the owner said to him: “Leave your servants shack and toil no longer, and come and dwell in my house as my son and heir!” Calling the second servant he said to him: “I see that you have lost no sheep from the flock that I entrusted to you; yet they seem in want for food and water. I see that you have polished and shaped some of the jewels that I have placed in your care; yet most have been left in their original condition, and the value of these polished few, has increased but a fraction. And I can see that the crop I placed into your care has yielded a reasonable harvest, yet it is lacking compared to what it could have been. Remain in the servants shack and toil ceaselessly for as many months as the jewels you left untouched; and then come and dwell with me in my house as my son and heir.” And then calling the third servant he said with both sorrow and anger: “You wicked servant! The flock I entrusted to you has been ravaged by wolves, and not one remains! The jewels that I placed into your care have been left untouched! For they are not only in the same condition that I left them, but they are covered in dust! And as for the harvest, I can see not a single grain!” “But master” replied the servant, “I didn’t intend any harm. I was just having fun in the woods by watching and playing with the shadows.” “Get away from me!” shouted the owner. “In selfishness you have squandered what I gave you in favour of vain pursuits. Get off my property! If you had even tried to serve me I would have welcomed you to live with me and to become as my son; yet instead you have preferred to chase the darkness of shadows!” At once the servant fled from the owner of the farm, and as soon as he left the property he stumbled in the darkness and fell into a water filled pit and drowned. The owner then took the jewels that the wicked servant had left untouched, and gave them to the first servant who was now his son.
Brief Narrative Commentary:
The first servants represents the elect, and the perfect soul who has fulfilled perfectly God’s Will in their life on earth. Such a soul goes straight to heaven.
The second servant represents the chosen soul who is imperfect, and has failed to reach the full stature of holiness to which they were called in their life on earth. Such a soul is in need of repairing for their sins and imperfections and thus according to their debts they must remain for a period of time in purgatory.
The third servant represents the soul who is called to live in union with God in heaven and who knows what they must and ought to do in order to attain Salvation; yet who through their willful negligence and sloth spurns such knowledge and thus rejects God and his love. Such a soul is damned and condemns herself to such a fate because by her willful rejection of heavenly things and selfishness she has chosen such a destiny.
Questions for Consideration:
1. What do you think is meant by the referral to watching and playing with shadows in the woods? And what are some of the shadows that you yourself may become preoccupied with?
2. In your opinion what may the following represent: the flock of sheep, the jewels and the plot of land with a crop of wheat?