November 16, 2008
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A
Readings: Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6; Matthew 25: 14-30
Once upon a time a TV commentator delivered a very pessimistic editorial on a Friday evening broadcast (taped earlier in the day).
The world was in grim shape, he told the camera.
Global warming was worse than anyone had thought it was.
The population of the world would double again in the next twenty year.
It was likely that an asteroid would hit earth before the end of the next century.
Rage was increasing the third world countries against our wealth.
The races were polarizing in America.
The crime had turned up again.
Our schools were total failures and would not, could not get any better.
There was a drug and alcohol epidemic in white suburban high schools.
Divorce rates were increasing.
Abortions were at an all time high.
A wave of bad news was sweeping the earth and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
When the taping was over, he got into his Mercedes and drove rapidly into the country to escape the Friday night traffic rush. At his house on the shore of the lake, he relaxed in the sauna, sipping from a large glass of Barolo wine, swam in the pool, wrapped himself in a silk robe, and sat on the deck as the sun set. He poured himself a second glass of wine and, as the sky turned red and then purple he thought that life was very good indeed.
Let us look at the parable we are presented with today.
First, a talent was not a coin, it was a weight in gold or silver of about 40 Kilos, so it was a very considerable treasure that this man was trusting to his servants. One talent was probably equivalent to a whole lifetime’s wages for such a servant—he had entrusted them with something precious beyond their wildest dreams.
The second point is that the Master took a very long time to come back. This is a tiny but important detail in today’s Gospel. It shows the Master’s love for his servants that he gave them more than ample time for the treasure of the talents to yield bounteous fruit.
What is the precious thing that God has entrusted to us? Is it not our own gifts or talents, as we try to understand it sometimes? Is it not our live which is a wonderful gift of God? It is, of course, but also it is the Good News of Salvation.
The great treasure that we have been given is the gift of the Gospel—the realization that Jesus is our Savior and that through our faith in him we will find salvation. It is what we do with these gifts: our life our talents and the gift of the Good News, that makes all the difference.
We are surely all at quite different stages in relation to this gift of faith. What am I doing in my life with this gift? Do I develop it, do I increase my faith, do I take care of it or I simply bury it in the soil, or maybe I neglected it and forgot?
Like the man in the Gospel
“'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'”
The man with one talent did not lose it. But, he did not do anything at all with it. If he had tried and failed, he would have met compassion and forgiveness. But he simply denied his responsibility, or he has chosen the easiest way … I will loose nothing because here I have my secured ticket to the Kingdom. I will bury it and at the proper time I will unearth it … Clever. Isn’t it?
Some of us may not even be sure whether they have it or not. This might be a particular problem for some of our young people, but not only them. There are many long-standing members of the congregation who suffer doubts and experience long periods of darkness and disbelief.
But if I do nothing to develop, to improve, to increase my faith why am I astonished that my faith is dying, failing and vanishing? God gave me all what I need; it’s now up to me to do something with it.
Others of us might find it a bit of a burden—knowing and believing in Jesus and his message but feeling quite inadequate to the task of transforming the Gospel into daily life.
God gave me the gift; He gave me the necessary skills and means. It’s now up to me to do something with this. It is astonishing; how clever and intelligent, bright we are when dealing with the multiplication of our earthly assets and how lazy, clumsy and naïve whence going about our eternal life?
Then some of us might feel full of faith and have put a lot of effort into carrying the precepts of the Gospel over many years and who yet feel that for one reason or another God has let them down badly. They certainly haven’t lost their faith but feel a bit depressed about it and don’t know where Christ is leading them.
This is the situation when I declare: “I believe in God” but I don’t believe HIM, I don’t trust Him. Or rather I don’t trust Him thoroughly. Should I not search how to strengthen my faith, should I not “invest more” in the religious growth and development?
Still others might be experiencing a new joy as they experience some wonderful grace or blessing from God. This is the situation when I cooperate, co work with God’s grace, with God’s gift. Somebody asked me not so long time ago: Father, do you have never doubts or suspicions that, what are you believing and doing as a pastor is wrong? Don’t you have any doubts that God is deceiving you? Don’t you doubt God’s existence and Mercy? My answer was direct: To doubt God’s existence means for me to deny my own reason and this is the end of myself, but I know also that, this is the great gift of God, with which I try to cooperate through my whole life ….
The parable tells us that faith is a real and wonderful gift from God. It is entirely unbidden—as in the parable the servants are given no clue in advance what the master is about to do.
Faith is also given to us according to our ability to deal with it—each in proportion to his ability, as it says in the parable.
But the most important aspect of the Parable is that the Master will eventually return. The parable is about Christ’s Second Coming and the judgment we will all face at the end of time. We know that we will be called to account for how we have handled this gift of faith that we have been so generously given.
This first thing to realize is that it is not a burden; it is a gift.
o For how many Catholics the faith is a burden?
The second thing to realize is that the man who is punished is condemned because he has buried his talent. He has refused to deal with it. He has simply ignored the gift and literally buried it.
o How many of us did the same with the talent of our faith, how many of us simply buried it?
So the message of hope is that whatever stage of life you are at, whether you are doubting, whether you are struggling to make sense of the Gospel message, whether you are teaching the love of Christ to your children, whether you are rejoicing in some new grace or blessing, whether you are going through the dark night of the soul, whether you are groping in darkness and searching for some chink of light—whatever might be happening with your faith at least something is happening!
Yes we will face judgment and we will have to give an account of ourselves. But it will be a long and convoluted story and we will have a wonderfully sympathetic listener (who knows the story all along because he was an essential part of it) and whose judgment will be merciful and who wants above all other things our happiness.
His whole aim is to give us joy—not a superficial joy, but a deep and lasting and fulfilling joy based on a life of engagement with him.
The most dangerous situation, the situation of disaster is when you bury your faith, and do nothing!!! So, DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR FAITH!!! Don’t sleep!!!
Fr. Kazimierz Kubat SDS
basing on the homily of Fr. Alex McAllister SDS