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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30
November 19, 2017

Just as the man in the parable “entrusted his possessions” to three of his servants, God has entrusted us with much.  God has given us dominion over the whole world (Genesis 1:28) but what do we do with what He has given us?

The man gave to his servants “each according to his ability.”  Two responded by going out and doubling their master’s money.  However, the third servant who was given just one talent, responded based on his fear of the Master.

Fear can be a powerful thing, so can love.  In our psalm response, we sang “Blessed are those who fear the Lord.”  Yet, this servant was ridiculed for acting out of fear.  He was not blessed.

We can let fear paralyze us, which is what the third servant did.  However, I don’t believe that is what God intends in our relationship with him.

I think when the Bible tells us to fear the Lord, it is speaking of fear as living in awareness of God’s magnificence, including his incredible love.  When we see that love, we should what to do what is pleasing to God.  That is what the first two servants did.

God has given each of us gifts.  What do we do with them?  Do we use them to build up our own wealth or to build up God’s kingdom?

The two servants did well doubling their master’s money.  If they had wanted to, they could have kept some of the profit for themselves and the master would have probably never have known and still been pleased with a smaller profit.  They did not.

This is not to say they were not compensated for their service.  We think of slaves as ones who were given barely enough to live.  In Jesus’ days, slaves would have received a fair wage.  Some were taken care of very well by their master.

What pleases God is that we use the gifts he has given us to help others and to build up his kingdom.  We see this in the woman described in Proverbs whose “value is far beyond pearls” and is “an unfailing prize” for “She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.

Pope Francis has proclaimed today as World Day of the Poor as a call to help the poor.  Today we have our semi-annual second collection for our Poor Fund that we use to help those who come to our parish with food and gift cards.  I say thank you for your contributions.

We will have our Advent Tree going up soon to help some poor children have a good Christmas.

As I have said at other times, we have parishioners who help at Habitat for Humanity, the Community Food Closet, and Catholic Charities, all to help the poor.  God is pleased when we use what he has given us to help others.

We can do it in our volunteering.  We can also serve God’s people in the way we work.  Teachers help us learn.  Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff help us heal.  What about, say, a judge?

A judge can make their decision based on technical rules.  They can choose to give a harsh sentence or a light sentence.  What should their motivation be?  For a violent offender, a judge must consider the safety of others when sentencing.  Once safety is assured, they, as well as those who oversee and work in the prisoners should think about how the sentence and the time they serve might help the offender become a better person.  The “person” must be the fundamental concern.

No matter what we do for work, we need to ask ourselves, are we doing our job to the best of our ability.  Here, the determination of what is best must include what is pleasing to God.  We might think God doesn’t care about some jobs.

For instance, does God care what an accountant does?  Yes, he does.  He wants the accountant to treat others with dignity and respect.  There’s nothing wrong with making a profit but not at the expense of a “person.”

What about when one retires?  Going back to the example of an accountant, one might serve on our parish Finance Council or as a counter.  A cook or a baker might choose to help with our Martha Ministry for funerals or the food lunch program at Emmanuel Methodist.

The point is to use what God has given not just for ourselves but to help others, especially the poor.

 

 

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