Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for November 16, 2014
We are coming to the end of the Liturgical Year. Next
Sunday is the last Sunday of the year and is the Feast of
Christ the King. We then begin a new year with the First
Sunday of Advent.
This time we have been accompanied by St Matthew through the various events in the life of Christ. We have reflected on his birth, his public ministry and the parables and miracles. In particular we have seen the events of his last days and of his resurrection mostly through the eyes of Matthew.
Each of the Evangelists has his own particular perspective or view point. Matthew was an Apostle, one of those chosen by Christ to be among his closest followers. We know that he was a Jew and that his occupation was that of a tax collector. We remember that Jesus saw him in the counting house and said “Follow me” and Matthew simply got up and literally followed him.
In his Gospel Matthew does not make a fuss about his call; for him it is a simple matter of fact. Jesus called and he followed; according to him there is nothing more to be said. This alone is something that has the ring of truth about it.
Matthew was a Jew and he is concerned to present his Gospel to the Jews. He pays a lot of attention to Jewish tradition and paints a picture of Jesus as being in complete continuity with them and shows that his life was a fulfilment rather than an abolition of the Law.
Obviously the Jewish members of Matthew’s community came into conflict with the Jews as a whole and so this is one of Matthew’s concerns. In his writing we can see how he sharply criticises the Scribes and Pharisees. Also it is interesting to note that there is no reference to the People of Israel being called Jews until after the Crucifixion as if the use of this name stresses their rejection of Jesus.
Taking a look at the Parable of the Talents we are given as our Gospel for today. We observe first that a talent was not a coin, it was a weight in silver of about 36 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? It is, of course, the Good News of Salvation.
The great treasure that we have been given is the gift of the Gospel; the realisation that Jesus is our Saviour and that through our faith in him we will find salvation. It is what we do with this gift that makes all the difference.
We are surely all at quite different stages in relation to this gift of faith.
Some of us may not even be sure whether we 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.
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 transmitting the Gospel to others.
Then some parishioners might feel full of faith and have put a lot of effort into carrying out 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.
Still others might be experiencing a new joy as they experience some wonderful grace or blessing from God. At various times in our life we might go through one or more of these reactions.
The parable tells us that faith is a real and wonderful gift from God. It is something that comes 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 judgement 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 realise is that it is not a burden; it is a gift. The second thing to realise 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.
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 it is that might be happening with your faith at least something is happening!
You are immersed in it, you struggle with it, you rejoice in it, you share it, you search for it, you deepen it, you love it and you even at times might hate it. But you are engaged with it!
Yes we will face judgement and we will have to give an account of ourselves. And it will surely be a long and convoluted story; however we will have a wonderfully sympathetic listener (one who knows the story all along because he was an essential part of it) and one whose judgement will be merciful and who wants above all other things our happiness.
Christ’s 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.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 16, 2014
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A—November 16, 2014
Jesus tells a parable about what His followers should be doing while they await His return. Can we find ourselves in it?
Gospel (Read Mt 25:14-30)
From its context in St. Matthew’s Gospel, we know that today’s parable touches again on being prepared for the arrival of someone who has been gone a long time. In the verses prior to our reading (Mt. 25:1-13) is a parable about the wise and foolish virgins who had to endure a “long delay” before the arrival of the bridegroom at a wedding. In today’s reading, we learn of a master who went on a journey and entrusted his possessions to three servants. The “talents” represent sums of money, and he distributed them unevenly to the servants, “each according to his ability.”
33rd Sunday: Developing His Talents
Every few years someone makes a dire prediction the world is coming to an end on a specific date. Each prediction is vehement, expressed with certainty, and wrong.
Last January a teen confronted me with, “Christ is supposed to come again this year. What do you think about that?” I responded, “I think I’d better look busy.” Seriously, I have never been concerned with any end of the year predictions. Well, that is not completely true. I did think that the world might come to an end when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Superbowl in 2003. But that was a matter of confusing sports ecstasy with divine rapture. Jesus makes it quite clear in Matthew 24:36: “No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the father.” The Father, the Creator, is the only one who knows when his creation will come to a conclusion.