Reflections for the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time 2011**
** These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2008 and 2010.
They refer to the daily readings for the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time 2011.
Sunday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
November 13, Matthew 25: 14-30
“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – each according to his ability. Then he went away.”
I have always looked at this parable as pertaining to our own creation by God. When he created us, God gave us all of his gifts and talents. And miraculously, no two of us is alike. We are all different and unique. There will never be another me or you. None of us has the same gift or talent to the same degree in the same place. And again, these gifts and talents are God’s free gifts to us. We did not earn them, we do not deserve them, we are not entitled to them. Once again, as with grace (and these gifts are a form of grace), God is the Giver and we are the recipients. Our part, as with the gifts and talents, is to accept them, use them, and bear fruit for others.
The parable makes the point loud and clear that these talents and gifts are to be used. The one servant was punished for hiding them in the ground. We are not to dig a hole and bury them for safekeeping. We are, rather, to take them, develop them, practice them, become more proficient in using them for the good and service of others. If we do not use our gifts for others and they use theirs for me, there is going to be a hole in my life and theirs. I can’t do everything alone. We might also refer to this hole as the proverbial God-shaped hole that only God can fill with the gifts he has given to another.
Not to use our gifts is laziness. We are not willing to put in the time or effort to develop the gift or talent and seek out those who have need of what I can do. Once again, I must have the desire to take my gifts and bear fruit with them. I have to do, I have to act.
This is quite a parable that we read for this Thirty-Third Sunday. Let’s take a little time today to reflect on what our gifts and talents are. Make a list of them so we can see them. We are not bragging when we do this. Humility is true self-knowledge and to know my gifts and talents is to know myself. It is really being humble. And finally, let us ask ourselves if we are using these gifts of God to the best of our ability for others. Is there any selfishness involved?
Lord, be with us as we reflect on our gifts and talents, for they are truly your will for us.
Monday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 14, Luke 18: 35-43
“Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
The blind man coming to Jesus for help in today’s Gospel needed help, boy, did he need help. And he knew well that he himself was powerless over his problem of blindness. So he went to Jesus. He didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. He went positively to the Lord who could help him and asked for that help. He had faith in Jesus and acted, and faith in action is a very positive thing. We believe, we trust, that God can and will help us.
Once again today let us ask Jesus to increase our faith, to be able to surrender to his will, to put him in control. Nothing is more positive and nothing will bring greater and happier results.
Tuesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 15, Luke 19: 1-10
Not too awfully long ago we commented on this same Gospel passage of Zacchaeus climbing a tree in order to better see Jesus. We mentioned then that Zacchaeus was the head tax collector and most probably not a young man anymore, maybe at least middle-aged. So we have a short, middle-aged man climbing up a tree to see what he wanted to see. As we remarked then, it must have been quite a comical sight! But it only goes to show that where there is a will there is a way.
What am I willing to do today to better see Jesus? Am I even ready to do something foolish if it will produce the required result? Just how badly do I want to see and understand the ways of Jesus?
Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 16, Luke 19: 11-28
I believe we are all pretty well acquainted with our Gospel selection for today’s Liturgy. A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then return. Before he left on his journey, he called 10 servants and gave each of them 10 gold coins to take and invest while he was gone. When he returned as king, he called the servants to see how they had made out with their investments and what his profit would be. The first two servants reported to him that they had doubled what he had given to them. But the third reported that he had hid his gold coins and had produced nothing. He did not fare so well.
I look at this parable and the gold coins as God’s gifts and talents given to all of us. We are expected to invest them by helping and serving others with them as we have noted many times before. I believe Jesus has given each of us 10 gold coins, at least 10 gifts and talents to use for helping others and for the promotion of his Kingdom on earth. What are they? Do we know them? And when I finish answering these questions I ask myself what I have done with them, how well have I used them? Have I hidden any of the coins that Jesus gave to me? If so, let’s make it point today to resurrect them and begin using them as God wants me to do.
Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 17, Luke 19: 41-44
“They will smash you to the ground and your children within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
The word “visitation” used in the above quote means that we failed to recognize the coming of Jesus among his people. In other words, Jesus came for our benefit, for our redemption, and we missed his coming or pay it little or no attention. As they say, we missed a golden opportunity.
Can we recall some very special visitation or coming of Jesus into our lives that really helped us grow spiritually? Did I take advantage of this opportunity by reacting positively as Jesus would have me do? In my own life, I think of my alcoholism. There was a time when I looked at this as a very negative thing, but finally came to realize that it was an opportunity from God to grow spiritually. It was my greatest help in turning from the spiritual bankruptcy I found myself in when I first entered the treatment center and passing to a state of spiritual well-being.
Thank God I was willing to let God help me out of my problem and be able to grow significantly in his grace. How about you?
Friday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 18, Luke 19: 45-48
The temple in Jesus’ time was made up of four areas or courts: one for the priests, one for men, one for women, and one for the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was surrounded by the Royal Portico and this was where all the business transactions of the temple were conducted. It was built for this purpose. Here the people could change pagan money to Jewish coins, they could purchase incense, oil, animals, grain and anything else needed for the various sacrifices. But things seem to have gotten a bit out of hand. The business men were exploiting those who came to the temple to make a greater profit. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, put an end to this to bring back the atmosphere of prayer to the temple.
In light of this Gospel, maybe I can ask myself today what I can do to enhance my own prayer time a bit. Maybe a visit to the parish church every now and then to pray, lighting a candle for an ambiance of prayer — or whatever. Just a little change of some sort can often make a lot of difference.
Saturday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 19, Luke 20: 27-40
How deep is my faith in a life after death? This is a question brought to the fore by our Gospel selection for today. I read a little story not too long ago about two soldiers huddling together in a trench during World War I. A shell whistled in and fell a short distance away from them. One of the soldiers was killed in the explosion. The other soldier sat there staring at the dead body of his friend. Later he wrote in a letter to his family that it was not really his friend there on the ground. That dead body was only the empty shell of a man. His brilliance, humor, spirit and great charm were gone. None of this was left in that body. And he ended his letter by saying: “It was then that I knew that what we call the soul does indeed survive after death.”
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in my will never die”. Do you believe this? How strong is my faith in life after death? What is it that has convinced me that these words of Jesus are true?