On God-Created Inequality

 Greatmartyr Procopius of Caesarea, in Palestine

Greatmartyr Procopius of Caesarea, in Palestine

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

[A homily on the Gospel of the Talents by Saint Nicholai Velimirovic, bishop of Ochrid, from "Homilies, vol. Two: Sundays after Pentecost."]

God creates inequality; men grumble at it. Are men wiser than God? When God creates inequality, it means that inequality is wiser and better than equality. God creates inequality for man's good, but men cannot see the good in their inequality. God creates inequality because of the beauty of inequality, but men can see no beauty in it. God creates inequality out of love, that is aroused and sustained by inequality, but man can see no love in it.

This is a primitive human revolt of blindness against perception, of folly against wisdom, of evil against good, of ugliness against beauty, of malice against love. Eve and Adam gave themselves into Satan's power in order to become equal with God. Cain slew his brother Abel because their sacrifices were not equally righteous in God's sight. From then till now, sinful men have waged war on inequality. Before then, though, God created inequality, and it is still with us. Before then, we say, because God created the Angels unequal.

It is God's desire that men be unequal in all externals; riches, power, status, leaning, position and so forth, but He does not recommend any sort of competitiveness in this. "Sit not down in the highest room," commanded the Lord Jesus. (St. Luke 14:8). God desires that men compete in the multiplying of the inner virtues: faith, goodness, charity, love, meekness and gentleness, humility, and obedience. God gave both inward and outward gifts, although He considers outward gifts as lower and of less significance than inward ones. He gave outward gifts for the pleasure of animals as well as of humans, but He has scattered the rich treasury of inward, spiritual gifts only in men's souls. God has given to men something more than to the animals, and He therefore seeks more of men than of the animals. This extra that He has given consists in the spiritual gifts.

God does not regard what a man is in this world and what he has; how he is clad, fed, taught and respected by others; God looks on a man's heart. In other words, God does not look on the external status and position of a man, but on his inner progress, growth and enrichment in spirit and truth. The Parable of the Talents speaks of this, or of the spiritual gifts that God has bestowed on the souls of all men, and shows the great inner inequality of men in their very nature. However, it shows much more than this. In its eagle-like ascent, this parable flies over the whole length of the history of the human soul, from its beginning to its end. If a man were fully to understand just this one parable and its teaching, and fulfill it in his life, he would achieve eternal salvation in the Kingdom of God.

"The Kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one: to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey". The man must be understood as God Omniscient, the Giver of all good gifts. The "servants" are Angels and men. Going on a "journey" signifies God's long-suffering. The "talents" are the spiritual gifts with which God endows all His rational creatures. That all these gifts are great is seen from their specifically being called "talents," for a talent was a high-value coin, worth five hundred gold ducats. We reiterate that the Lord deliberately called God's gifts "talents" to show their greatness, to show that the most gentle Creator has richly endowed His creatures. These gifts are so great that he who receives one talent receives quite enough. The "man" also signifies the Lord Christ Himself, as is seen from Saint Luke's Gospel: A "certain nobleman" (St. Luke 19:12). This nobleman is the Lord Christ Himself, the Only-begotten Son of God, the Son of the Highest.

This is also clearly seen from other words in the same Gospel: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." After His Ascension, the Lord Jesus went up to heaven to receive for Himself a Kingdom, promising the world that He would come back to earth AS Judge. When we understand the man to be the Lord Jesus, then we see that His servants are the Apostles, the Bishops, the Clergy (Priests) and all the Faithful. The Holy Spirit has poured out many good gifts (though differing and unequal) on each of them, so that the one should complement the other, and so that all together should come to moral perfection and spiritual growth. "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operation, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, and this same Spirit divides to every man severally as His will" (1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11).

Through the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism, all the faithful receive these gifts abundantly and, through the Church's other Mysteries (Sacraments), they are strengthened and multiplied by God. By the "five talents," commentators understand the five senses, by the "two talents," the soul and the body, and by the "one talent", man's unified being. The five bodily senses were given to man to serve his spirit and his salvation. It must be man's concern to serve God in body and soul, and to enrich himself with the knowledge of God and with good works. The whole man, as a unity, must be placed at God's disposal. In childhood, a man lives by his five senses, in a wholly sensual life; in greater maturity, a man is aware of a duality in himself and a battle between body and spirit; and in full spiritual maturity a man feels himself to be a united spirit, overcoming the division of himself into five or into two. But it is precisely in this full maturity, when a man thinks that he is the victor, that he is threatened by the greatest danger from pride in himself, denigration of others and disobedience to God. Reaching the greatest heights, he then falls to the deepest destruction, and buries his talent in the earth.

(To be continued)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George