Deacon Cornell's Homily


Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30


November 18-19, 2017, Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today's story of the talents is again one of those very familiar Gospel passages that we are so familiar with that it is easy to miss all the richness of what Jesus is saying, especially as it applies to us. The obvious point is certainly a very important lesson: that everything we have and therefore everything we are has been given to us by God who expects us to return a profit to him. What I would like to do is to just touch on several of the other lessons that are implicit in this story.

The master gives each of his servants a different amount. God's gifts to us is always personalized. Since God is love, everything God does is in the context of this loving relationship between God and us. God's gift of who we are and what we have as talents and opportunities is based on the deep intimate loving knowledge God has of each of us. What God expects of me is that I use the particular gifts I have been given to their full potential. I am not in competition with anyone else, just my self.

In addition to understanding the talents as the gifts that God has given us as individuals, the context of the Gospel suggests that Jesus is chiding the Sadducees and Pharisees about the talents of the covenant that God gave to the people of Israel. Instead of building a wall around the Law as some of the Jewish leader seemed to be doing, the Law and prophets are a living gift, not to be buried but to grow and evolve. By extension we can understand the talents as the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church. It is meant to be invested and worked with to evolve and grow as the first two servants did with what the master gave them. This is certainly an important lesson to hear as we try to move from maintence to mission as Church here in Acton, Boxboro, and Stow. Maintenance is burying the talent; mission is risking investing and working the talent to increase their return for God.

The obvious message of the third servant is that the biggest obstacle to being missionary disciples who follow in the footsteps of Christ who risked everything for us is fear. And as I have said over and over again, whether we are able to risk our faith and our gifts or we try to hold tight or bury them depends on who we think God is. Do we fear God as a terrible taskmaster who reaps where he didn't sow? Or do we have a proper "fear of the Lord" as the virtuous wife in that section from Proverbs. Fear of the Lord is much better translated as being in awe of the Lord. Rather than cowering in fear before God, we proclaim God is awesome and we want a piece of that awesomeness.

I will just close with a short reflection on that first reading. I always laugh a little when someone depicts the Church as being patriarchal and anti feminist. Without minimizing the fact that many men in the Church have acted wrongfully in this fashion, at the heart of it, we, the Church, are called to be the bride of Christ. That passage from Proverbs is a perfect description of who we are to be as that bride of Christ. We are to take the fabric of life and weave God's love into it. We are to reach out our hands to the poor and our arms to the needy. We are to be the virtuous wife of Christ the bridegroom. That is why Mary is both the mother of the Church and the disciple without equal.

Let us cast off fear. Let us emulate our God who risked all to create us and to redeem us. Let us invest the talents we have been given individually so that each of us can stand before our Master when he returns and hear, well done my good and faithful servant.

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