Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily, Nov 13, 2011, Fr. Ken Hughes SJ, Parable of the Talents


Sunday 33 A   11/13/11   St. Mary of the Angels

Proverbs: 31.10-13, 19-20, 30, 31;  Thessalonians I: 5.1-6;  Matthew 25:14-30


We are coming to the end of the liturgical year.  Just one more Sunday left, -- the Feast of Christ the King.  It is like listening to the last movement of a majestic symphony with all the themes rushing together in a great crescendo.  Last Sunday, this Sunday, next Sunday, --  all focus on chapter 25 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus proclaims three of his most challenging and dramatic parables about the coming of God’s Kingdom.  You might say that these three parables respond to three fundamental questions: When, what, where?


1. When?  When will we meet God face to face in his kingdom?  Last Sunday, with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus was saying, “You don’t know when.  You won’t know when. Just be prepared at all times!”

2. What?   What does it mean to be prepared?  Today, with the parable of the talents,   Jesus says, “Use for God all the gifts which He has given you!  Hide nothing!  Keep nothing.  Use everything – for God’s purposes!” 

3. Where?  Where are we to use these gifts?  Next Sunday, with the parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus will say, “Use them where I am, and I am mostly in the poor, the hungry and the thirsty, in the stranger and in prison.  Use them for Me!”  Today, He could well be saying, “Right now, if you want to find me, you find me in a tent at Dewey Square in downtown Boston.”


These parables are powerful, and they are also disturbing because a strong note of fear lurks in each one of them. 

If you are not prepared for Jesus’ coming you will be left outside of the wedding feast. 

If you don’t use your talents for God, you will find yourself outside in darkness where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. 

If you do not tend to the poor, the hungry and thirsty, if you do not welcome the stranger, or visit the imprisoned, Jesus promises that you will be going off “to eternal punishment.”  In these parables, Jesus hits us with strong language and vivid images, forcing us to make clear choices. 


Clear choices? Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid.  More deeply, He wants us to be happy.  But, our happiness depends on whether we use and how we use the gifts which God has given us, -- and they are all his gifts. Nothing is ours. To those who use their gifts like the first two servants He says, “Come, share the joy of your Master.”   God wants to say those words to us. God wants to share his joy with us.  But God can’t do that if we are hiding our talents or using them for ourselves.


 Someone might say, “But what talent do I have?”  Well, there is one talent that has been given to all of us: the capacity to love. We received that talent in the sacrament of Baptism.  In the baptismal ceremony the priest says to the parents and God-parents: “You have come here to present this child for baptism.  By water and the Holy Spirit she is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.”  That new life is the capacity to love given by the God who is love.


It is good for us to be reminded of this fundamental truth as we celebrate this morning the baptism of Logan Mackenzie Kathryn Mason.  God, through this Christian community, hands over to Logan this gift of love.  She is too young to appreciate this gift.  It is up to you, parents and God-parents, to nourish this gift of love for her until she can claim and use it as God desires so that she may have joy.  It is an awesome responsibility. You can’t do it alone.  You need to let the faith community embrace you with its love.  And you need the Body of Christ in the Eucharist to feed you with Jesus’ love.  Otherwise, you will fail.


You know those familiar lyrics:

“Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay.  Love isn’t love until you give it away.”

Logan will learn to love only if she sees your love.  And she will only see your love when you give it away.  But, Jesus promises us in today’s parable, the more that you give away, the more you will have.  And, more importantly, you will be happy.  For Jesus will keep saying, “Come.  Share in the joy of your Master.”  My brothers and sisters, we live in an unhappy world because so many build their lives on false promises of happiness.  It is here in the Christian community that we hear words that keep pointing us to God, to love, to true happiness.  And we hear Jesus’ encouraging words to each one of us as we do try to use our talents for Him: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. … Come, share in the joy of your Master.”

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