33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mediocrity or Greatness :: op-stjoseph.org

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33rd Sunday in OT, Nov 16, 2008 – Mediocrity or Greatness Scripture Readings First Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 Second 1 Thes 5:1-6 Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 Prepared by: Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, OP 1. Subject Matter  Constant watchfulness for the coming of the Son of Man is necessary. Jesus uses the parables of the two servants (Mt 24:45-51), the ten maidens (Mt 25:1-13) and here of the talents. Here the point is responsible activity in face of Christ‟s return. The demand is for positive action
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    33 rd Sunday in OT, Nov 16, 2008  – Mediocrity or GreatnessScripture ReadingsFirst Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31Second 1 Thes 5:1-6   Gospel Matthew 25:14-30  Prepared by: Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, OP1. Subject Matter      Constant watchfulness for the coming of the Son of Man is necessary. Jesus uses theparables of the two servants (Mt 24:45-51), the ten maidens (Mt 25:1-13) and here of the talents. Here the point is responsible activity in face of Christ‟s return. The demand is for  positive action as opposed to fearful or lazy inaction.    The return of the Master and the accounting we must give for all that we are stewards of: willwe settle for the mediocrity of minimalism or strive for the magnanimity of greatness with thegifts we have been given?2. Exegetical Notes    The Master is away on a journey, and after a long time, returns to settle accounts and invitethose who have acted positively to share in his joy.    One talent was equivalent to the wage of an ordinary worker for 15 years. Ancient customsaw the burial of money as the best security against loss  – with whoever buries the moneyfree from liability.    While the third servant acted with caution to guard his master‟s money, he did so out of fear  that the master was harsh. However, we have just seen how generous the master was to thefirst two servants  – admitting them into his intimate joy. It is true that the final servant haslost nothing, but he has also gained nothing.    Mt. uses weeping and gnashing of teeth elsewhere to describe the frustration of thoseexcluded from the joy of the master. See Mt 8:12; 3:42, 50; 22:13; and 24:51. Punishment for the infidelity of not using and thus allowing one‟s talents to fall into disuse, is as severe as the punishment for more freely-chosen sins.3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church   CCC # 546 : Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristicfeature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but  he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are notenough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or goodearth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and thepresence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enterthe kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to know the secrets of the kingdom ofheaven . For those who stay outside , everything remains enigmatic. CCC # 852 : The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, “the principal agent of the whole of the Church‟smission.” It is he who leads the Church on her missionary path. “…so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, ofservice and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection.” So it is that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”   CCC # 1029: In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation toother men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him they shall reign for everand ever. CCC #1936: On coming into the world, man is not equipped with everything he needs fordeveloping his bodily and spiritual life. He needs others. Differences appear tied to age, physicalabilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, the benefits derived from social commerce, and thedistribution of wealth. The talents are not distributed equally. CCC # 1937: These differences belong to God's plan, who wills that each receive what he needsfrom others, and that those endowed with particular talents share the benefits with those whoneed them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity,kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures.   4. Patristic Commentary      St. Augustine : “T he whole wickedness of that servant who was reprobate and severelycondemned, was that he would not put out his money to use. He kept the entire sum he hadreceived; but the Lord looked for profit from it. God is covetous with regard to our salvation. Ifhe who did not put out to use is so condemned, what must they look for who lose what theyhave received? ”      Gregory:   “ To hide one's talent in the earth is to devote the ability we have received toworldly business .”      Origen:   “ This servant seems to me to have been one of those who believe, but do not acthonestly, concealing their faith, and doing every thing that they may not be known to beChristians. They who are such seem to me to have a fear of God, and to regard Him asaustere and implacable. We indeed understand how the Lord reaps where He sowed not,because the righteous man sows in the Spirit, whereof he shall reap life eternal. Also Hereaps where He sowed not, and gathers where he scattered not, because He counts asbestowed upon Himself all that is sown among the poor. ”      Gregory:   “ Let him then who has understanding look that he hold not his peace; let him whohas affluence not be dead to mercy; let him who has the art of guiding life communicate its  use with his neighbor; and him who has the faculty of eloquence intercede with the rich forthe poor. For the very least endowment will be reckoned as a talent entrusted for use. ”      St.   John Chrysostom : “ But let us see what sort of wisdom he then demands. He calls it the wisdom „of a serpent.‟ The serpent abandons everything, even if its body has to be cut off, and does not resist much, provided only it can save its head. In the same way, he says,abandon everything except your faith, even it if means giving you your wealth, your body,your life itself .”  5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars      St. Catherine of Sienna spent years in the seclusion of prayer in her room, until the Lordappeared and showed her that she had to leave her withdrawn life and enter the public worldto serve the ill and the poor. In the Dialogues,   St. Catherine heard God say: “ I distribute thevirtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some toothers. . . . I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, aliving faith to that one. . . . And so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual andtemporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so thatyou may be constrained to practice charity towards one another. . . . I have willed that oneshould need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and giftsthey have received from me .”  6. Quotes      Pope Benedict XVI : “ Each life has its own calling. It has its own code and its own path.None is just an imitation, stamped out along with a mass of other identical ones. And each one requires the creative courage to live one‟s life, and not just to turn oneself into a copy of someone else.”      Pope Benedict XVI : “The parable of the lazy servant, who buried his talent so that nothingcould happen to it…Here is someone who will not tak e the risk of living his life in its srcinality and letting it develop; or of exposing it to the dangers that necessarily arise with that…”      Luigi Giussani : “We can do many things, but their pedagogical fruitfuln ess will not have a Christian measure…one ca n even die for others and not have love, and thus be worthnothing; that is, when we sacrifice ourselves to affirm our own ideas or to follow a feeling,and not out of devotion to the Being who reaches out to us; when we share our things,perhaps even our lives, without truly sharing ourselves; when we rid ourselves of everything without losing ourselves.”  7. Other Considerations      In the face of the generosity of God who bestows upon us every gift, we can either give themback to Him by using them to build up the Kingdom  – and thereby strive for the greatness weare called to - or we can bury them through our self-indulgence, laziness, fear, or greed (andachieve the mediocrity of our selfishness. Recommended Resources  Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI  , ed. by Peter John Cameron, OP. Magnificat,2006.John Bartunek, The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer  , Hamden, CT:Circle Press, 2007. The New Interpreter’s Bible , Vol. 8, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerus/index_fra.html
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