33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel

Matthew 25: 14-30

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.”’

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Reflection

We may say of someone – ‘She never made the most of herself’, or ‘He didn’t achieve his potential’. We talk of people burying their talents in the ground. That’s partly what Jesus is speaking about in today’s parable. He also refers to a greedy and incentive boss-man who only wants a good return on his money.

Inside everyone are many personal gifts: music, art, good listening, compassion, sport, intelligence, etc. We are given many gifts. Everyone in a family has different gifts and something to offer. The story is to encourage us to make the most of our gifts.

Sometimes we get caught up in the criticism of others and fail to see the goodness inside and the contribution they give to others. Some have more than others to offer, as in the parable.

Like the people in the parable who had been given money, they were expected to use these to make more. But the deeper meaning is not to squander our personal gifts and talents, but to make the most of them in loving service of others.

Adapted from Fr Donal Neary SJ who is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger

Prayer

Father in heaven,
all good things come from you.
Help us to use the gifts you have given us,
always remembering to share what we have
with our brothers and sisters who are poor.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

 


32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel           

Matthew 25: 1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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Reflection

The parable tells a story which could have happened at any time in a Palestinian village and which could still happen today.  Since a wedding was a great occasion, the whole village lined up at the sides of the road to wish God’s blessings on the bride being taken in procession by her groom to her new home.  The invited ones would join the procession, which started from the bride’s house and moved to the groom’s house, to take part in the week-long celebration of the marriage. Since the bridegroom might come to the bride’s house unexpectedly, the bridal party had to be ready at any time, with accompanying bridesmaids, carrying lighted torches and reserve oil in jars.  Five of these bridesmaids, who, having forgotten to bring an extra jar of oil had to run to the dealers to buy some more, missed the arrival of the groom’s party and lost their chance to take part in the celebration.  They lost not only the opportunity of witnessing the marriage ceremony, but also of participating in the week-long celebration that followed.

This parable has both a local and a universal meaning.  The local meaning is that the foolish bridesmaids represent the “Chosen People of God” who were waiting for the Messiah, but were shut out from the messianic banquet because they were unprepared. “The division between the wise and the foolish bridesmaids becomes the division between those in St Matthew’s church who keep the commandments of Christ… and those who hear his words but fail to do what he commands” (Fr Reginald Fuller).  The universal meaning is that the five foolish bridesmaids represent those who fail to prepare for the end of their lives.  What matters is not the occasional or the last-minute burst of spiritual fervour but habitual attention to responsibilities before God.  At the final judgment, there will be no depending upon the resources of others, no begging or borrowing of grace.  The parable implies that we should attend to duties of the present moment, preparing now rather than waiting until it is too late.

Fr Anthony Kadavil (St John the Baptist Catholic Church, Grand Bay, Al 36541)

Prayer for Remembrance Sunday

Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict, and ask that God may give us peace:

— for the service men and women who have died in the violence of war, each one remembered by and known to God;

— for those who love them in death as in life, offering the distress of our grief and the sadness of our loss;

— for all members of the armed forces who are in danger this day, remembering family, friends and all who pray for their safe return;

— for civilian women, children and men whose lives are disfigured by war or terror, calling to mind in penitence the anger and hatreds of humanity;

— for peace-makers and peace-keepers, who seek to keep this world secure and free;

— for all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership, political, military and religious; asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve in the search for reconciliation and peace.


31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

Scripture Reading

Matthew 23: 1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

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Reflection

‘Practise what you preach’. ‘Walk it as you talk it’. These are sayings we use to highlight that words and actions in our Christian life should harmonise.

‘Love is shown in deeds, not words’ is the ending of the Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.

This is the criticism of Jesus about some of the Pharisees: they preached intolerable burdens of the law, and did not observe it themselves, nor help anyone to do so.

We find out how to be a follower of Jesus by watching him in the Gospel, by hearing his word, and by living a life of love and compassion as best we can. We learn how to relate to others by the way Jesus does this himself.

Every religion can get lost in the visible signs of it. Titles in parish or a diocese can take over from the service requested from us. Shows of piety can lead to the self rather than to God. Everything in our religion should come from the life of Jesus and return to him. ‘You have one teacher, the Christ’.

Lord, teach me your ways, your truth and guide me into your life.

Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger

Prayer

Lord,
you warned us against doing good works to earn human praise.
May we do the works of the Gospel
with humility of heart and pure intention.
Through Christ our Lord.Amen.