It’s more than a little of a challenge to have a gospel such as this one as the gospel for the day, especially when today we have a special celebration along the steps of our parish journey. I think also that, in this relentless season of COVID-tide, we’re already close enough to any edge of darkness. But that’s what the gospel ends with today.
As far as the third servant in the story is concerned, I think what happens to him is that he succumbs to fear. He becomes paralyzed because of his fear for the master.
Faith is what banishes fear. Hope is what banishes fear. And in the plenty of faith and hope, it’s best to hear the words, “Well done good and trustworthy servant”.
We’d all like to hear those words. And on a day such as this day, we can proclaim those words: “Well done good and trustworthy servant.” Because of the faith and hope that you have, you will be given more. Those are the kinds of words we need to hear. Those are the kinds of words for us to proclaim especially today.
Today is a special day in our journey as a community of faith. Today, we give thanks for a particular member of our community. We give thanks for all that she has done over many, many years as a servant of Christ in our midst. Today, we say a formal good-bye to our dear Helen … Helen Minten ODT. I say a formal “good-bye” because, I’m sure this is not the last we will see Helen. After six years of making the weekly commute to Buckhorn from the big city of Peterborough, Helen is now grounding her new roots in her new city. The good thing is that Peterborough is not that far away.
In the recommendation we submitted for you, Helen, to receive the Order of the Diocese of Toronto (ODT), I think we said that over the many years of your service in the parish that you had held just about every office that was possible. Now, it would be easier to list the things you haven’t done rather than those you have so graciously done for St Matthew-St Aidan and for those we serve.
I could be wrong but I haven’t heard about your cutting the lawn. I could be wrong though. I bet you have shovelled some snow at one point or another but… I’m pretty sure you haven’t ever climbed the steeple. Just about everything else that has been for the good of the parish and to reach out to those in need, I think is in your repertoire.
So, well done good and trustworthy servant.
I always recall fondly something Don Bowles said one day. He said that you always have to be quiet, listen, and pay attention when Helen is reading a lesson, leading the prayers, or giving a homily as in years past. He said you had to pay attention because when you spoke, Helen, it was "Mom" who was talking. There’s a lot of truth in that.
There are so many, many things for which we need to give you thanks, Helen. You have been, and you continue to be, a model of servanthood in our midst. You are a person of faith and hope… faith and hope that have borne you through good times and through troubling times. Again, an example for us all.
I’d like to add another observation. In all that you have done and in all your interactions you have been so genuinely humble, a quiet servant. Well done good and trustworthy servant. We proclaim that with great joy and heartfelt appreciation.
I’m sure you know that, if it weren’t for this pall of COVID-19 that hangs over us, we would be doing much more to wish you well today. It would be an entirely fitting time for a special lunch and time for people to mingle and talk with you. In spite of our restrictions, I hope that you know of all our blessings and all our thankfulness.
I know, and we know, how important St Matthew-St Aidan is to you and how it has been your spiritual home for so many years. We celebrate with you that you have found a new spiritual home. We know just how fortunate the People of St Luke’s will be in Peterborough to have you in their midst.
So, we wish you well, Helen. As we say ‘fare thee well’, we again say well done good and trustworthy servant. Thank you for all you have done. Thank you for being you.
Always be certain of the abundance Jesus promises.