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Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Prv 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31, 1 Thes 5:1-6, Mt 25: 14-30

In two weeks we begin the Advent Season, and we end the church year with the reminder that Jesus will come again. The Gospel today calls us to be busy about the work of the Lord. Jesus tells his followers that “we know not the day nor the hour,” and Saint Paul wrote to the Thessolonians; “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” We can respond to Jesus’ coming in two ways; with fear of the end, or to continually conform our lives to Christ and to be at peace. Saint Francis of Assisi supposedly followed the second approach. There is a legend that one day while working in the garden a pilgrim saw him and asked, “What would you do if you knew that today the world would end?” Saint Francis paused, thought for a moment and said, “I think I would continue to work in the garden.” What would you do if you learned that today the world would end? Would you be in fear and panic, or would you peacefully go about your regular business? The Gospel parable about the talents, and Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessolonians both tell us to be at peace, for if we are doing the Lord’s work there is nothing to fear.

In the Gospel parable a master, before leaving on a journey, entrusted three of his servants with talents. A talent was a coin of value, and two took their talents and invested them and the value was doubled when the master returned. The third buried his talent out of fear of the Master and it did not increase in value. The first two servants were rewarded, while the third was punished. The parable tells us that we are each given talents, not the Old Testament coins, but gifts and abilities that are to be used to build up God’s Kingdom. Saint Paul in First Corinthians speaks of the many gifts, and tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are intended for the community.

In order for us to appreciate these readings it is important for us to take stock of ourselves and to see what gifts God has given us. These could be the seven gifts we all learned for Confirmation; Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Awe of the Lord. Do we see any of these gifts as being evident in our lives? The gifts need not be limited to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but can be looked at in a much broader way. There are the people with the genuine gift of hospitality who stand at the entrance of the church and warmly welcome people, those who are gifted administrators and can organize all sorts of parish events, those who gather people together to pray for members of the parish, and so on. These are not only wonderful gifts, those who use them are like the wise servants who invested the talents, but their use of talents builds up God’s kingdom.

How do we use the gifts God has given us? The readings today call on us not to be shy and hide them, but to be bold and to generously use them. As we use these God-given gifts those who benefit from them might come to see Christ in us. For some people this is all that is needed to draw them closer to Christ in their lives.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

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