Investing the Talent of the Mass, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), November 13, 2011 Audio Homily

Fr. Roger J. Landry

St. Anthony of Padua Church, New Bedford, MA

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

November 13, 2011

Prov 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1Thess5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click at the bottom of the page. The following text guided this homily:

INVESTING THE TALENT OF THE MASS

  • Three years ago, Pope Benedict, in his Angelus address given on the Sunday when this morning’s Gospel was proclaimed, gave a great summary of the meaning of this parable:
    • “The ‘talent’ was an ancient Roman coin, of great value, and precisely because of this parable’s popularity it became synonymous with personal gifts, which everyone is called to develop. In fact, the text speaks of ‘a man going on a journey [who] called his servants and entrusted to them his property’ (Matthew 25: 14).
    • The man in the parable represents Christ himself, the servants are the disciples and the talents are the gifts that Jesus entrusts to them. These gifts, in addition to their natural qualities, thus represent the riches that the Lord Jesus has bequeathed to us as a legacy, so that we may make them productive: his Word, deposited in the Holy Gospel; Baptism, which renews us in the Holy Spirit; prayer, the ‘Our Father’ that we raise to God as his children, united in the Son; his forgiveness, which he commanded be offered to all; the Sacrament of his Body sacrificed and his Blood poured out; in a word: the Kingdom of God, which is God himself, present and alive in our midst.
    • This is the treasure that Jesus entrusted to his friends at the end of his brief life on earth. Today’s parable stresses the inner disposition necessary to accept and develop this gift. Fear is the wrong attitude: the servant who is afraid of his master and fears his return hides the coin in the earth and it does not produce any fruit. This happens, for example, to those who after receiving Baptism, Communion and Confirmation subsequently bury these gifts, …thus betraying the Lord’s expectations. However, the parable places a greater emphasis on the good fruits brought by the disciples who, happy with the gift they received, did not keep it hidden with fear and jealousy but made it profitable by sharing it and partaking in it. Yes, what Christ has given us is multiplied in its giving! It is a treasure made to be spent, invested and shared with all
  • Often as Pope Benedict said, we can think about this parable just in terms of what we are to do with our natural talents or gifts, our singing, artistic or athletic ability, our intelligence and our work skills, our money and material resources, our health, our family, our life. But the far more important talents are:
    • The ability to talk to him in prayer and receive from him guidance in life.
    • The sacraments, whereby we encounter him.
    • The Bible, where his Word is given to us.
    • The Church, particularly the teachings of the magisterium.
  • Today I’d like to focus, very briefly because of the video being shown before or after Mass, specifically on the talent of the Mass. The Mass is the very gift where Jesus illumines us with his word and feeds us with himself. There’s no greater talent in the world.
    • The ancient Egyptians, with all their skills, had nothing like this.
    • The Buddhists, with their teaching on the path to wisdom through suffering, have nothing close to this.
    • The Muslims, with the seeds of the Gospel they have and their willingness to make a commitment to God, have nothing like this.
    • The Jews, with the gift of the Covenant, have nothing like this.
    • The Protestants, for all their fire and love for the Word of God, have nothing like this.
    • This is the greatest gift in the world, the greatest talent, Jesus himself.
  • The question for us is what are we doing with it. To whom more is given, more is to be expected. Others may have been given one talent or two, but we’ve been not only five but fifty. How are we responding? What fruit does the Mass bear in our lives? What type of investment do we make with this gift?
  • The new English translation of the Mass, which we are hearing about before and after Mass and will begin to use in two weeks, is meant to help us to pray the Mass better, which is a start, but the key for us is to live the Mass, to make our life a Mass, to receive this treasure of the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist and let him transform us. One Mass, St. John Vianney, used to say has the power to make us a saint. He would lament, however, that so few take advantage of the Mass. They bury the treasure of the Mass. Or at most they receive the gift only one of the seven days they live. Is that the way to bear greatest fruit from this gift? St. John Vianney said that they would become very holy if only they came to receive the Lord more often with greater love.
  • The Lord wants us to bear dividends from the Mass. For that to occur, we need to prepare well. We need to celebrate the Mass well, pouring ourselves into it. We need to let that Mass continue to change us.
  • At the end of time, the Lord will say one of two things to us.
    • Either, “Well, done, Good and Faithful Servant. You have been faithful in little things. Now I will entrust you with greater responsibilities. Come share your master’s joy.”
    • Or, with great pain and disappointment, “You wicked, lazy, worthless servant. Cast him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • All of us want to hear the first, for which our ears were made. Let us ask God to make us faithful with respect to the Mass so that he joyfully may entrust us heaven.

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1PRV 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value 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.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R/ (cf. 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R/ Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R/ Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R/ Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Reading 21 THES 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come
like a thief at night.
When people are saying, “Peace and security, ”
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.

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.'”