HOMILY FOR: 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
HOMILY THEME: WISE INVESTMENT FOR ETERNITY
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
A priest dropped by a gas station and was surprised by the long line of cars at the pump. He soon realized that it was the eve of a long holiday weekend. Finally, after waiting for some time, it was his turn. The attendant apologized. “Father”, said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It’s always like this before a long holiday weekend. Everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.” The priest smiled and said, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”
We are now on the thirty-third Sunday. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Hence, our readings at this time are about the last things – death, the end of the world, final judgment, heaven and hell. These are the hard realities we can never avoid. It is, therefore, necessary and wise to do our preparation way ahead of these inevitable events.
The parable of the Ten Virgins last Sunday reminded us that we must have ample supply of oil to keep our lamps burning in preparation for the coming the Lord Jesus at the end of time. This Sunday, the Gospel gives us the parable of the Talents. It reminds us of the unannounced coming of the Lord and the time for accounting and judgment. Hence, there is the need to properly use our talents and gifts for the glory of God and the welfare of our fellowmen.
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The meaning of the parable is clear. We are the servants. The talents are the blessings God has given us – time, intelligence, our capacity to love, temporal goods, family, and the like. The journey of the master signifies our life in this world. His sudden return stands for our death. The settling of accounts is our judgment. The eternal banquet is Heaven.
The master entrusted talents (a significant amount of money or gold) to his three servants before he went away for some time. The amount was proportionate to the capacity of each servant, and the master hoped that it would be handled properly until his return. The first two servants invested the money and, as a result, they were able to double the amount when the master returned. The third servant acted foolishly. He buried the money of his master. This greatly offended the master.
It was a threefold offense: first, he did not use the money according to its purpose. In burying it, it was not able to help other people, and so it did not grow. Second, it revealed the superficial relationship he had with his master. It was a relationship based only on fear, and not love. And third, it also showed his low self-esteem. He did not count his giftedness. Instead, he compared himself with the other two servants, and in the process, he looked down on himself and even accused the master of being “a hard man, reaping where you had not sown.” In all these, it was clear that he was not a trustworthy servant.
In all honesty, we have to admit that sometimes we are like this third servant. Instead of looking at our self and counting our blessings, we look at other people who have more. We become envious of them and our discontent grows. So, instead of thanking God and using His blessings, we complain. We then end up becoming bitter and unhappy.
The parable this Sunday tells us that God has entrusted us with many blessings. The fact is, we are blessed more than we ever imagine. And He expects us to use these blessings, not to bury them in the ground. The more we use them and share them with others, the more blessed we are, and we become a blessing to others as well.
There was a famous pianist named Jan Paderowski. One time, a fellow pianist asked him if he could be ready to play a recital on short notice. Paderowski replied, “I am always ready. I have practiced eight hours daily for 40 years.” “Oh, how I wish I had been born with such talent and determination,” the other pianist said. Paderowski said, “We are all born with talent and determination. I just used mine.”
“Burying our talents” is another word for selfishness. The more selfish we are, the more we feel insecure and insignificant, and we indulge in self-pity. But Jesus reminds us that we should never feel insignificant, for we are all precious in the eyes of God. We should never say, “I am just a small person. My presence is not important in this world.” Just imagine a piano with one key missing. It can never play a complete melody. Imagine a typewriter or a computer keyboard missing one letter. You can never compose a complete message.
One time I offered a funeral Mass for a dead pilot in the Air Force. His aircraft had engine trouble and crashed. The investigation revealed that one small screw in the engine was missing. The absence of one small screw caused the fatal accident. One small screw is important to the pilot and to the entire aircraft.
Each one of us has significant contribution in the building up of the Body of Christ. Each one is important and precious in the eyes of God. Instead of indulging in self-pity or being envious of others, let us resolve to use our gifts and talents. As St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” This means that the best way to give glory to God is to develop our life to its fullest potentials, by using wisely our God-given gifts, talents and blessings for the benefit of others. Any time the Lord returns and we are asked to render an account of our stewardship, we will hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come, share your master’s joy!” Let me close with this thought from Bruno Hagspiel: An engineer has figured out that with a 5-kilogram bar of iron you could make various things: nails, which would net you $10; needles, which would gain you $300; and watch springs, which would bring $250,000. Each day has the same raw material. What you make depends on you.
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