Investing Wisely the Gold Coin of Our Life, 33rd Wednesday (I), November 18, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
November 18, 2015
2 Mc 7:1.20-31, Ps 17, Lk 19:11-28


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


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the Gospel we have the Parable of the Coins, which is similar to that of the Talents, but the main difference is in this Parable, everyone gets the same investment on the part of the Lord. One multiplies it by 10, another by 5, 7 we don’t know about, and the tenth buries it. Whereas with the Parable of the Talents, often we can focus on how many talents we have relative to others, today’s Parable has us focus on the fact that the greatest gifts we’ve received, to a large degree we have received equally with others: the gift of our life, the gift of time, for us as Catholics, the gift of God’s word, the gift of the Sacraments, the gift of so many opportunities for charity. How are we investing those? Are we bearing great dividends from them? How are we planning to invest the gift of this day for loving God and others? We all know that there are some people who really profit from these common gifts and others who place them in handkerchiefs. Most of us would give the Lord somewhere between 1-10. But the impact of this Parable is to get us to take the risks necessary to bear a windfall.
  • Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. She was born to a wealthy family in France; her father was a banker and businessman and her mother part of a family that eventually produced a French president. After having been educated by the Visitation nuns, she wanted to join them, but her father wanted her to enter into a fitting marriage, and so she needed to run away. The French Revolution closed her convent and after trying to reestablish it, she joined St. Madeleine Sophie Barat in the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and eventually accepted a mission to come to the United States, in Jesus’ name, to invest the gift of her faith in the fruitful soil of a new continent. She was willing, like so man of the explorers, to take the faith far afield and lower her nets for a catch. At the age of 49, with five other sisters, she embarked on a grueling 20-week journey across the Atlantic and up the Mississippi River. Rose was sick the entire voyage and twice was near death, but she soldiered on until they arrived in St. Louis. The bishop established them in St. Charles and gave them a one-room log cabin, which they used to found a school for poor children, the first free school west of the Mississippi. Thus began 34 years of missionary toil in brutal conditions. The sisters needed to battle cold, hunger, sickness and deprivation, not to mention opposition to their French teaching methods, ingratitude and even calumny. “Poverty and Christian heroism are here,” she wrote succinctly back to the motherhouse, “and trials are the riches in this land.” About the calumny, she joked, “They say everything about us, except that we poison the children.” All of these crosses, however, served merely to prove and magnify her Christian virtue, to refine her gold. Vocations from among her students started to come in large numbers and she was able to establish new houses, schools and orphanages in Florissant, Grand Côteau, New Orleans, St. Louis and St. Michael. As hard as she was working among the settlers in the frontier, she longed to bring the Gospel to the Indians, so that they would know the great gold coins God with which God had wanted to enrich them. She got her wish when she was 72. By this point, she had become ill enough that she had asked to step down as superior. When a request came in from the famous Jesuit missionary Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet to help establish a school for the Patawatomi in Sugar Creek, Kansas, she volunteered to go. Her fellow sisters wanted to prevent her from the difficult work in her frail condition, but not only did she insist on going but so did Fr. De Smet. “She must come,” the black-robed apostle demanded. “She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.” That’s precisely what she did. It had been hard enough for her to learn English upon coming to America at about the age of 50. It was near impossible for her to learn the Indian dialect, but she did the best she could to teach the young Indian girls about Jesus. What she couldn’t convey in words, she conveyed in action. She spent most of her days and nights on her knees in prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist, which taught the Indians more about the real presence of Christ than hundreds of catechism classes. Once, young squaws placed small pieces of paper on the back of her habit to see if she’d move during the night and go to bed. They came back in the morning and the pieces of paper were exactly where they had placed them. So moved were they by her example that they gave her a precise nickname: Quah-hak-ka-num-ad, “the woman who always prays.” Her prayers led to many conversions. She’s no doubt praying for us today that we might invest the gift of our life fully.
  • In order to bear great dividends, just like those on Wall Street, we need to be willing to task risks. We need to confront and overcome our fears, not cave into them like the man with the handkerchief. And we receive so much inspiration from today’s first reading, where we see the courage of this family — a mother and her seven sons — in remaining faithful to God. They refused to eat pork because in the Old Testament God had forbidden it, and they wouldn’t sin against the Lord even in the least way in order to save their lives from torture and death. They illustrate for us the saying of the waves of martyrs in Church history: “Better to die than to sin.” Because they were faithful in keeping their Covenant with the Lord in small things, they were faithful even when threatened with death. There’s a great lesson here. If we’re going to bear great dividends, we need to be faithful in little things, which means we need to be willing to die for the faith. The early Church used to prepare catechumens to remain faithful under torture and martyrdom and if they were prepared to remain faithful with God’s help in the supreme tests, they began to pour themselves into their relationship with God in the daily tests.
  • Today Jesus has brought us here not to slay us before him but to show us that he was willing to be slain before us and to allow us to enter into communion with his loving courage. This is the secret to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s great eternal dividends. This is what the great mother and her sons now have in fulfillment as a result of their faith. This is what will likewise make us strong so that today we might invest our time to become a Quah-hak-ka-num-ad and through praying our work and action be able to appear before the Lord with great returns on his great trust!


The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 MC 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
“Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
“What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king’s command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1BCD, 5-6, 8B AND 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia SEE JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.’”After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.