Here's Fr. Tom's homily from November 14-15, 2020, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Today we read about the Gospel of the many talents. A man about to leave on a journey entrusts his possessions to his servants in proportion to their abilities and then goes on his way. Three men are given the responsibility to use their talents. The first two men strategize how to best use their talents to benefit their master. They are willing to take initiative in spite of the risks. By doing so they both double their talents for their master’s wellbeing. The third man doesn’t do anything. His greatest offence is perhaps having no initiative at all as he just buries it in the ground and sits around doing nothing.
I wonder if we ever thought that not using our talents was the same as burying them in the ground. Today’s Gospel is about accountability. We are all entrusted with various responsibilities in our lives and how we follow through with them determines whether or not we are credible. The master in today’s Gospel is commissioning his servants to use their talents not only for his betterment - but for their own betterment. Have you ever thought that the work that you do for others - is also being done for your own benefit?
I remember my nephew being offered an internship with a company during his junior year of college. He said he would sometimes have to stay a few hours beyond the end of the workday before the project assigned to him was finished. He was teamed up with another student who didn’t see completing the job the same day with the same urgency as my nephew did and would dismiss himself at the end of the shift He excused himself by saying that their work day is over at five o’clock and that they don’t expect them to stay. When the internship ended, my nephew was offered the job. His teammate was not
I think we are speaking about more than just accountability but having a since of self-worth and that you, yourself - need to value how you do things so you are able to find within yourself - what it means to be a person of honor. I believe today's first reading from the book of proverbs reinforces this concept as we read:
When one finds a worthy wife - her values is far beyond pearls.
Her husband entrusting his heart to her - has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good and - not evil - all the days of her life. (page 1*)
The man’s wife is an unfailing prize because she has found meaning in her life Proverbs then goes on to speak about her work ethic; how she obtains wool and flax, and how she works with loving hands, and extends her arms to the needy and that as wonderful as it may be to be charming and beautiful, the woman who fears the lord is most charming and beautiful of all and will be praised for her love and rewarded for her labors.
This is also true of the good servants who have been honorable to their master. Work, like everything else, has its value. The servant in today’s gospel who buried his talent - did himself a huge disservice by allowing himself to become melancholy and losing heart - instead of challenging himself to be innovative
Work engages our mind and our will. It helps us move on, allowing us to let go of all of the concerns and worries that bother us. John Paul II said that: "In our work we become collaborators - with God." Just imagine, to be a collaborator with God. To walk side by side with God. Think of the times Jesus walked side by side with his Apostles and how he was the son of a carpenter - and how Joseph - taught him the value of work
Bishop Robert barren said that
God draws us - into activity - to bring about a greater world.
Think about the power of those words: “To be drawn into activity to bring about a greater world.”
What are some of the activities you participate in that make it a greater world What kind of difference are you making in society because of your dedication to others? When you work with loving hands and extend your arms to the needy - you are making a huge difference - in the hearts and lives of others. How you use your talents is also how you share your love. The use of your talents - can also be a gift - to those who are - hurting and alone. When we use our talents, we are contributing to the whole of society. (pg. 2*)
In John Paul II encyclical: Laborem Exercens: Sept 14, 1981 - states:
… connected with the basic dimension of human existence, man’s life is built up - every day - from work - from work it derives a specific dignity …the church considers it her task to always call attention to the -dignity and rights of those who work, and to condemn those situations in which that dignity… is violated.
How many of us can honestly say that we have used all of our talents well or that we have found ways to develop our full potential - as individuals and - as children of God. Some people just drift - through life, like the lost servant in today’s gospel, living life aimlessly and selfishly only to die without realizing his true potential. Others work hard but only on tasks - that are of little value - as their purpose is for materialistic gain - which often leaves them - empty and dry.
We must be careful how we invest ourselves into our work because God is calling us into something deeper. He wants us to use our talents by first and foremost seeking the kingdom of God. In other words, he wants us to live our lives well and wisely - as did the man’s “worthy wife” in the book of proverbs. Happy are those who find life worthwhile - however humble it may be, to live one’s life so the spirit of God’s love shines upon their neighbor and that they always give honor and glory of God.
We pray that we may not bury any part of ourselves in the ground but always grow into the person God called us to be, that we become collaborators with God so that one day we will hear the words - well done my good and faithful servant.
Remember the words of Bishop Robert Barron –
God draws us – “into activity” to help bring about a greater world.