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Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Homily - The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading - Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 ©

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 2:10

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:4, 5

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:14 - 30 ©

 

(NJB)

 

 

The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Consider these words of wisdom and be mindful; everyone has fallen short of perfection.

 

Know this!

 

The psalmist is in error.

 

It is vanity to believe that God will come to your aid when you are engaged in a dispute with your sisters or brothers, or in any dispute in all.

 

It is vanity and foolishness to believe that God will secure the foundation of your house or the peace of your city, the stability of your nation or the well-being of the world.

 

It is vanity and hubris to assume that those who labor from dawn to dusk are loved less by God than those who do not toil at all.

 

It is vanity and hubris to believe that God places sons in the wombs of the mothers on behalf of the fathers whom God loves.

 

God does not favor husbands over wives, God does not favor brothers over sisters, God does not favor sons over daughters.

 

God does not intervene in our affairs.

Listen to the apostle!

 

When Saint Paul says that we belong to the light, he is speaking to all of the children of Adam, to the entirety of the human race. He is speaking to the world, his audience is everyone; the message is timeless, unbounded; it comes from the infinite.

 

Be mindful!

 

The gift of grace is not transactional; God gives it freely, the creator of the universe gives grace to all, no one is excluded.

 

God is present throughout creation; there is no place where God is not. God touches every person, God sustains every living-breathing thing, God undergirds the whole created order, Christian and non-Christian alike, the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

It is heartbreaking to see the teaching of Jesus betrayed so completely by the writers of the Gospels.

 

The authors of Matthew, writing a hundred years or so after the death of Jesus, were more concerned with building up and retaining church property than they were with teaching the good news, that Christ has risen, that God loves the sinner, even the worst of them.

 

It is impossible to know how the way came to be betrayed in such a fulsome and complete manner, but I am thinking it has to do with the fact that over the course of a hundred years, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the leadership of Christian communities throughout the Empire fell to the wealthy, bishops were selected from among leading merchants and tradespeople, from among landowners and people of status.

 

It is not surprising that in this time the way that Jesus preached about came to be imagined as a kingdom, while abba, the father, became a king.

 

This parable views God or Jesus as a merchant and a banker, instead of a fisherman or a carpenter, a shepherd or a farmer.

 

The parable begins with the idea that God will distribute challenges and tasks to the people according their ability, that God knows both the powers and liabilities of God’s children, and consequently God knows what to expect from them.

 

Therefore, it is out of character for the loving and knowing God to punish the servant who buried his one talent. God knew that this is what this servant would do.

 

According to the way of Jesus, the servant who buried the talent should be the recipient of mercy, of a loving ministry, not cast out and left in the dark.

 

One hundred years after the death of Jesus, the leaders of the church had forgotten this.

 

The servant who hid the talent was not lazy, as the “master” said, but was fearful because he knew that the man he was beholden to was a hard person, who took what he had not worked for, robbing others of the fruit of their labor.

 

This servant did not multiply his talent as the others had done because he did not want to emulate the corrupt practices of his master as the others were willing to do.

 

Again, the master, who represents either God or Jesus in this parable, does not deny being hard of heart, and does not deny the charge of being a thief, reaping what he had not sewn, and gathering what he had not scattered.

 

He is proud of it, and that is the type of behavior he intended to promote.

 

He charges the frightened servant with laziness, with neglect and stupidity, calling him a good-for-nothing and has him thrown into the dark, into the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, into hell, the place of death.

 

Through this twist in the narrative the authors of this parable up-end Jesus’ teaching, that the last will be first and the first shall be last.

 

The true reading of this parable is this:

 

The man who was thrown out represents the figure of Christ. Like Christ he refused to emulate the wicked practices of the rulers, he refused to profit from the suffering of others, he knew that he would be punished and he accepted the consequences. He was proven right, and he was killed for his convictions.

 

 

First Reading - Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 ©

 

A Perfect Wife - Who Can Find Her?

 

A perfect wife – who can find her?

 

She is far beyond the price of pearls.

 

Her husband’s heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit.

 

Advantage and not hurt she brings him all the days of her life.

 

She is always busy with wool and with flax, she does her work with eager hands.

 

She sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle.

 

She holds out her hand to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.

 

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman who is wise is the one to praise.

 

Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.

 

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

 

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

 

O blessed are those who fear the Lord

  and walk in his ways!

By the labour of your hands you shall eat.

  You will be happy and prosper.

 

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

 

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

  in the heart of your house;

your children like shoots of the olive,

  around your table.

 

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

 

Indeed thus shall be blessed

  the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion

  all the days of your life!

 

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

 

 

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 ©

 

God Will Bring with Him Those Who Have Died in Jesus

 

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

 

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 2:10

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:4, 5

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:14 - 30 ©

 

You Have Been Faithful in Small Things: Come and Join in Your Master's Happiness

 

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

 

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

 

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

 

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

 

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

 

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

 

 

The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 



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