Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

The Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30) is a story that Christ uses to challenge and encourage us. It is a call to be zealous for God, to be resourceful in our ways of serving him and to avoid fear. For as St. Augustine says in a homily: Love makes all, the hardest and most distressing things, altogether easy, and almost nothing. Indeed, loving God enables us to use the gifts we have been given to bear much fruit for the Kingdom. Here, St. John Chrysostom reflects on this week's Gospel:
Parable of the Talents, A. N. Mironov (2013)
In the parable of the talents the Master entrusted money to his servants and then set out on a journey. This was to help us understand how patient he is, though in my view this story also refers to the resurrection. Here it is a question not of a vineyard and vine dressers, but of all workers. The Master is addressing everyone, not only rulers, or the Jews.
Those bringing him their profit acknowledge frankly what is their own, and what is their Master’s. One says: Sir, you gave me five talents; another says: You gave me two, recognising that they had received from him the means of making a profit. They are extremely grateful, and attribute to him all their success.
What does the Master say then? Well done, good and faithful servant (for goodness shows itself in concern for one’s neighbour). Because you have proved trustworthy in managing a small amount, I will give you charge of a greater sum: come and share your Master’s joy.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

"Stay awake," says Christ in this week's Gospel passage from Matthew (25:1-13). In short, our Lord exhorts us to be spiritually alert, vigilant and eager for his coming. While we know he will come again at the end of the ages, we are called to be ready to welcome Jesus who comes lovingly into our lives at every moment. Pope Francis expounds further on this Gospel:
Five Foolish Virgins, France (12th century)
The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us, to all of us, before his Final Coming with mercy and patience; it is a time of watchfulness; a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth. It is a time to live in accordance with God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return.

What he asks of us is to be ready for the encounter — ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall asleep so as to not forget about God. The life of slumbering Christians is a sad life, it is not a happy life. Christians must be happy, with the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

A beautiful but demanding Gospel is presented to us this Sunday in Matthew (23:1-12). Jesus strongly rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, pride and egoism; likewise, we are challenged by our Lord to look at our own duplicity of heart. In short, Jesus asks: are we seeking ourselves, our reputation, prestige or honor, or God and his glory? In a homily by Paschasius Radbertus written in the 9th century, the importance of humility is stressed, in imitation of Christ himself:
Washing of Feet (ca. 1305), Giotto
Christ is called master, or teacher, by right of nature rather than by courtesy, for all things subsist through him. Through his incarnation and life upon earth we are taught the way to eternal life. Our reconciliation with God is dependant on the fact of his being greater than we are. Yet, having told his disciples not to allow themselves to be called master, or to love seats of honour and things of that kind, he himself set an example and was a model of humility. It is as though he said: Even as I do not seek my own glory (though there is One who seeks it), so neither must you love to be honoured above others, or to be called master. Look at me: The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many....

Those who delight in serving and caring for others are the ones who humble themselves so as to be exalted by God. Note that it is not those whom the Lord exalts who will be humbled, but those who exalt themselves, and similarly it is those who of their own accord humble themselves who will be exalted by the Lord.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Jesus reminds in today's Gospel that love is at the heart of Christian life. "The whole law and the prophets depend on the twofold commandment" (Mt. 22:40) to love God and neighbor. All things are measured by love: “love and do what you will ... let the root of love be in you,” says St. Augustine. He emphasizes the importance of this greatest commandment in his homily:
What else is there to speak of apart from love? To speak about love there is no need to select some special passage of Scripture to serve as a text for the homily; open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love. We know this is so from the Lord himself, as the gospel reminds us, for when asked what were the most important commandments of the law he answered: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself....
People are renewed by love. As sinful desire ages them, so love rejuvenates them. Enmeshed in the toils of his desires the psalmist laments: I have grown old surrounded by my enemies. Love, on the other hand, is the sign of our renewal as we know from the Lord’s own words: I gave you a new commandment – love one another.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

God is a God of surprises! With each new day, He leads us in ways unexpected and unpredictable. In this Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 22:15-21, Jesus declares that we must render to God the things that are God's; this is a call to live according to the divine will, whatever it may be. Pope Francis expounds on this theme in his homily:
Render unto Caesar, Anton Dorph (1831-1914)
God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new”. A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness”!

“Rendering to God the things that are God’s” means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace.

Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavor to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest – with our feet firmly planted on the ground – and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A


In this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14), Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the wedding banquet. A king invites guests to his son’s feast, but for various excuses they don't come: They made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. In a 2011 homily Pope Benedict gave on Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord's Supperthe ultimate wedding banquethe reminds us:
Parable of the Wedding Feast, 14th c. Russian icon
In his heart [Jesus] awaited the moment when he would give himself to his own under the appearance of bread and wine. He awaited that moment which would in some sense be the true messianic wedding feast: when he would transform the gifts of this world and become one with his own, so as to transform them and thus inaugurate the transformation of the world. In this eager desire of Jesus we can recognize the desire of God himselfhis expectant love for mankind, for his creation. A love which awaits the moment of union, a love which wants to draw mankind to itself and thereby fulfil the desire of all creation, for creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:19). Jesus desires us, he awaits us.
But what about ourselves? Do we really desire him? Are we anxious to meet him? Do we desire to encounter him, to become one with him, to receive the gifts he offers us in the Holy Eucharist? Or are we indifferent, distracted, busy about other things? From Jesus’ banquet parables we realize that he knows all about empty places at table, invitations refused, lack of interest in him and his closeness.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

In this Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 21: 33-43), Jesus reveals through the Parable of the Tenants the importance of responding to the call of God. He is always waiting for fruit to be borne in us, always looking for the "crop of good grapes" (Isaiah 5:2). We can choose to be like the unresponsive, wicked tenants, or be as the "good soil" that Jesus describes in his Parable of the Sower. Fr. Jean Danielou S.J., a French theologian of the 20th century, brings this point to light in this text from The Lord of History:
Parable of the Tenants, by Liberale da Verona (1441–1526)
God is the husbandman, expecting, hoping, desiring such great things from us. He prepared the soil in which our souls were to grow up and flourish; he ceases not to nourish, protect and encourage their growth, all our lives long. Every circumstance of our environment is an instance of God's care for us....
The point of the Song of the Vine is that it reveals how much store God sets by the spiritual profit of our lives, and how much he depends for this upon our help.... Some things are beyond our control, and temporal success is one of these; other things are at all times within our control, such as the spiritual response we make to the situations in which the Lord is pleased to put us, or the determination to find God in all the circumstances of our life, be they joys or crosses. If we do this, everything that happens to us is nourishment for the sap of that spiritual vine, namely our eternal soul, everything co-operates in its growth to perfection.