Investing the Lord’s Trust and Talents, 21st Saturday (II), August 30, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Saturday of the 21st Saturday in Ordinary Time, Year II
Votive Mass of Mary, Handmaid of the Lord
August 30, 2014
1 Cor 1:26-31, Ps 33, Mt 25:14-30

To listen to an audio recording of today’s Gospel, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today is the last daily Mass reading from our focus on St. Matthew’s Gospel, which we began two months ago on June 9. It’s from the end of St. Matthew’s account right before we enter into the description of the Passion and it focuses on judgment. Like the reading about the faithful and prudent steward we had on Thursday, like the parable of the five wise virgins we would have had yesterday if we didn’t have the Gospel for the beheading of St. John the Baptist, today, too, we encounter the Lord goes away on a journey but then comes back, and about the behavior we’re supposed to have in the meantime. Today we see how he entrusts to us great gifts so that we can build his kingdom in his absence and build ourselves up in the process. He’s going to come back and he wants to show us how us how we’ve been able to learn with him how to become like him in our stewardship.
  • In the parable he gives three different amounts to three different servants, five, two and one talents. We can get lost in the numbers in our egalitarian culture and think that they’re important, but they’re not. Jesus gives to each according to his ability and he’ll judge us according to our ability, not according to quantity. We can also get a little lost by the number “one” as if someone would not have been able to do much with so little, but we have to remember that by the word “talent” Jesus was referring to a measurement of weight and one talent of silver was equal to 6,000 days wages; in todays money, if someone made $100 per day, that would be $600,000, and someone can do a lot with that much investment! Notice what those who had received the five ($3 million) and two ($1.2 million) did with what they received. They “immediately went out” and started to invest it, to make it grow. The one who had received the one, however, went out and buried it out of fear. Rather than sensing the trust given to him by the Master, he feared him, thinking he was demanding, cruel, tyrannical, and failed to bear any fruit from this gift. What does this refer to? It refers fundamentally to the way so many of the Scribes and Pharisees had received the talent of the Covenant, of divine revelation, but buried it out of fear because they didn’t want to risk breaking it. They weren’t growing to be more like God, but keeping the letter static and regressing and becoming neurotically become attached to what they had buried because they had buried with that talent. There’s a great lesson here. It’s not so much about what we’ve received, but how much effort we’ve had in response to what we’ve received, both on a natural and supernatural level. Whatever we have, we’re called to use that for the kingdom. The greatest talents of all we’ve received are spiritual: the Word of God, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Penance, the Cross, in short, God. We’re called to invest these gifts.
  • Many of the most successful people on earth are not the most talented but the ones who have maximally responded to their gifts. This is also true spiritually. Today in the first reading St. Paul describes that most Christians were not those who were the most talented, but nevertheless they paid great dividends in response to the talents they received according to their abilities. It’s one of the most consoling passages in Sacred Scripture. St. Paul said, “Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” Maybe we consider ourselves among the really lowly ones, but what we don’t have is a blessing, because we’re far more dependent on God and this itself is a great talent. When we’re spiritually poor, we’re more aware of our dependence on God. When we’re weak we’re strong. It’s when we’re humble, as St. Paul says at the end of the passage, that we recognize that Christ indeed is our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
  • On this Saturday we reflect on the young girl from Nazareth who wasn’t blessed that much in conspicuous human gifts, the humble handmaid of the Lord, the one who wasn’t wise by human standards, or powerful or noble, but the one who shows us how the Lord casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. She’s the one who leads us here at Mass to the blessed Fruit of her womb, the greatest gift and talent we’ve ever received, who wants to help us to bear fruit that will last so that together with this woman who was always her son’s good and faithful servant we might hear him say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter your master’s joy!”

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
1 COR 1:26-31

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Gospel
MT 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”