Home » Gospel Encouragement – 33rd Sunday of the Year

Gospel Encouragement – 33rd Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

People often focus on the person of the ‘master’ in today’s Gospel, imagining him to represent God, but this isn’t the case.  Jesus is taking the normal human relationship of the time – a master to his servant – to make his point.  A more helpful paraphrase, to give us the intended focus of our thoughts, is more likely to be: “the kingdom of heaven is like a man… who… gave… talents”.  To add to our confusion, the first reading can sound quite sexist to us by today’s standards, but in reality it is exploring the same thing, the talents that God has given us that enable us to fulfil the purpose of our lives.

As an example, let me share something from my own life.  When I was a young person I was very nervous and lacking in confidence.  However, two things changed that.  Firstly, my faith came alive in my mid-twenties and I became involved in a community within the Church which chose to invest in me.  These two things: my personal faith and my participating in a lived corporate faith enabled me to grow very quickly in confidence.  The proof of this was when my parents came to a secondary mission where I was giving the input and were shocked to see their previously terrified son looking considerably more at ease than they would have imagined possible.

Why do I share this with you?  Well, because we are all the product of the circumstances of our lives.  For me, my experience of school had seriously undermined me.  Others of you will have had different experiences in your formative years and beyond that affected you, some positively and some negatively.  Some of you will be more confident and some less; some will have discovered the innate talents that you have because they were drawn out of you in a healthy way and others will not have had the blessing of that.  However, the Lord is encouraging us to open our hearts to him, to ask him to bring healing to those areas where we have been spiritually or emotionally scarred and to seek to discover the fulness of the giftedness with which we have been blessed, be that five talents, two talents or one talent…and I’m sure that for all of us it’s at least five!!!  And once we’ve started to discover them, however long that may take, to use them, one by one, for the building up of the kingdom of heaven.

And what does that mean?  Well, it means to use our talents for sharing the love of God and for building up the body of Christ, the Church.  In some cases, it can be obvious, particularly for those of you who have been able to follow more vocational career paths such as medicine or social work.  Those who have had that benefit are sharing the love of God within those careers, but it’s not to be limited to that.  Others may well feel that their work means that the way they live out their faith is more hidden, and that may well be true, but it doesn’t make it more insignificant; far from it.  Your willingness to care for those with whom you work, or to challenge error sensitively or to bring joy to your workplace regardless of the tensions around you – or any number of other scenarios – is just as much the building up of the kingdom of God as anything else.  These are all expressions of love, love which is the greatest gift we can give.

And returning to our first reading about the good wife, I think that this highlights where our priorities lie, because we all have to prioritise.  Our primary commitment is to our state of life.  If we are married it is to firstly our spouse and then our children.  To develop the talent of being as good a wife or husband as we can be is our obvious starting point, being God’s love to each other and endeavouring to help each other enter the kingdom of heaven.  And from that solid foundation that you seek to build together, to share that love of God with your children.  From there comes your work life, your participation in the family of the parish and your social life.  For us who are single we are able to explore work, parish and society in a more dedicated way; in the unique way that only our particular set of talents allow.  Our talents make us unique, special, and enable us to make a very particular contribution to the world in the name and love of Jesus.  Each of you is incredibly gifted.  Let us pray that we each grow in the knowledge of those gifts – in the knowledge of how incredible each of us is – and the confidence to use them for the building up of God’s kingdom, more and more each day.

With every blessing,