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Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year A, By Rev. Fr. Lucas Binnah Junior, C.S.Sp

Rev Fr Lucas Binnah Junior

Homilies & Reflections

Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year A, By Rev. Fr. Lucas Binnah Junior, C.S.Sp

First Reading: Proverbs 31:10-13.19-20.30-31/Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 128:1-2.3.4-5 (R.1a)

Second Reading: I Thessalonians 5:1-6/Gospel Accl: John 15:4a.5b/Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

Theme: It-Is-Surprising-To-Bury-One’s-Greatness!

It is said that women love surprises, so men like to pull some on them! The opposite is also true, when a woman surprises a man with a wonderful package. A bouquet of flowers, a piece of jewellery, a gift card with kind words or any nice present for birthday, graduation, anniversary, etc., leaves lasting memories on the mind. It seems surprise is woven in the very fabric of created reality. These are positive surprises. However, we can have negative surprises, when a bad thing unexpectedly happens, such as death, diagnosis of a life-threatening disease and domestic/motor accident. In addition, thieves, fraudsters, tricksters, kidnappers, coup-plotters, armed-robbers and terrorists all employ the mystique of surprise to unleash mayhem. If this is not the case, the late President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, will not wake up on the morn of 15th November, 2017, to realise that his Army, of which he is the Commander-in-Chief, had taken over the reins of government. Did not Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Niger and recently, Gabon go through similar experiences? What a big and disturbing surprise for the deposed leaders, one could guess!

The phenomenon of surprise is not limited to mortals only. The immortal God, from time to time, also punctuates our lives with surprises. He is a God of surprises! When Satan thought he had conquered Christ on Good Friday, he had the shock of his life when God raised Jesus from death on Easter Sunday. The same is true when St. Paul had a surprise encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Syria, which turned his life around completely (cf. Acts 9). In today’s readings, even though we get a hint of what is to happen at our eschatological end, the certainty of the element of surprise is still visible since no individual knows exactly when the day of the Lord will come. It is on this note that the second reading tells us: “For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2). Even though this statement is in itself a surprise, St. Paul hastens to add: “But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief” (I Thess. 5:4). So, what will the day of the Lord be like? It will be a time of accounting, judgment, reward and punishment: accounting because each of us is gifted in one way or the other, and judgment in the sense that we have freedom and are responsible for our choices. God’s gifts come as natural talents and spiritual gifts (cf. Rom.12:6, I Cor.12, 14). They may differ but they are all given based on God’s generosity and our individual faith, strength and ability. Whether five, two or one talent, we should be able to use them productively, wisely and fruitfully. Listen to what Jesus says about this: “You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn. 15:16). Consequently, to remain unproductive like the one-talent man, is not only a sign of laziness, mediocrity, lack of initiative, innovation, appreciation, but also a danger that can make one a candidate of eternal damnation! How we use these natural endowments, as well as, our spiritual gifts positively or negatively, usefully or wastefully, humbly or arrogantly, appreciatively or depreciatively, cheerfully or sadly, selflessly or selfishly, will determine whether we will be rewarded or punished. Also, we need to take care in handling the people, job, position, money, wealth and things God bring into our lives. We must cherish and treat them with respect, integrity and accountability. The day of the Lord will occasion a situation of enjoying perpetual bliss in heaven or suffering perpetual doom in hell. From the foregoing, Jesus uses the Parable of the Talents to teach us some lessons: One, is the subject of taking calculated risks. It is said: “Take risk in life. If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will become wise.” Yet, there are people who never want to try anything in life for fear they may not succeed. Again, there are others who fail to identify their gifts or think that what they have is too little or not enough to work with. Such people tend to see nothing good in themselves as they compare with others. However, since each individual is gifted according to their abilities, there is no room for unhealthy competition or pettiness. God does not judge our work compared to others, but ourselves – our abilities: intelligence, knowledge, strength, etc. That is why both the five-talent and two-talent men were given the same reward (cf. Mt. 25:21, 23). The one-talent person blames and even insults God and everybody else except themselves for their mediocrity. Listen to this: “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not

sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so, I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground” (Mt. 25:24-25). The ingratitude, timidity and fear of the one-talent person is obvious. (S)he is also jealous. In any case, jealousy, envy and hatred are a trio-sign of emptiness. Be that as it may, we need to understand that if one takes a risk and succeeds, they become not only happy but leaders as well. If they fail, though, that may be disappointing initially, they end up becoming not only wise but good guides, because of experience in the past. Therefore, whether we gain or lose, there is always something positive about taking calculated risks. When the five and two-talent men invested their monies, they made gains on their investments. They could have incurred losses, but they were courageous enough to make a try. On the other hand, the one-talent man, afraid of taking risks, ended up losing everything he had. While these productive servants were praised as “good and faithful servants,” the unproductive person was branded a “worthless servant.” As if that was all, he was also punished eventually in such a way that his condition is described as: “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 25:30). What a super double tragedy! In addition, the parable shows us an important principle in life: If we do our work well, we are rewarded with much more work. It is said that “The reward for good work done is more work.” Hence, the five and two-talent men who doubled their talents were given more to work with. They were told: “You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt. 25:23). Some persons want to be CEO’s, bishops, presidents, leaders, directors, chairpersons, etc., but when you give them the post of a messenger, they find it very difficult to give off their best. They may neither be punctual nor dutiful; they give excuses, do not work efficiently, cannot keep secrets, do not give proper accounts and they lord it over others too. With this attitude, not even Satan can entrust such a person with greater responsibilities! To aspire for a higher or superior office, we all need to be faithful even in a little or lower or ‘inferior’ positions. What then, are we to do, one may ask? St. Paul tells us: “So then, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (I Thess. 5:6). Rightly so, there is need for us to be serious about the things which matter in life. The idle man, it is said, is the devil’s workshop. Therefore, we need to work hard, smart and fear God, rather than live our lives as if there is no God. When we do that, the blessings in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 128) will be ours. Furthermore, we need to imitate the good wife in the first reading. She is not only hardworking, but also industrious and zestful: “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle” (Prov. 31:13, 19). As if this was not enough, she charitably uses the fruit of her labour (her talent) to help others: “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (I Thess. 5:19). Sloth is not only a recipe for poverty but also a wrecker of destiny and an inhibitor of eternal life! Just imagine this: God created the whole universe out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). He just spoke the word and things came into existence. We all have more than words. The billionaires and history-makers in the world today began with just little and had terrible beginnings; and now, we are all witnesses of what that little or humble beginnings can do! It is not so much of quantity, but simply making effort to use whatever you have! To exit this earth with your talents buried will not only surprise God, but yourself as well! The danger staring at us is not so much of judgment awaiting us at the end of time, but failing to do something with who we are and what we have. Are you looking for a job or an employment? Yes, that is important, but please, create one yourself with your God-given talent! That makes you an entrepreneur! That may even generate work for others too. As we gradually draw the curtains down on the Church’s liturgical calendar, let us vigilantly expect God’s surprises by becoming useful, faithful and fruitful with our talents. Simply surprise yourself with some good deed. God bless and Happy Sunday! Remember: #It-Is-Surprising-To-Bury-One’s-Greatness#

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