Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Servant of the Word) Cycle A



Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catechism Links[1]
CCC 2006-2011: Our merits for good works come from God’s goodness
CCC 1038-1041: Our works manifested at the Last Judgment
CCC 1048-1050: Keeping busy as we await the Lord’s return
CCC 1936-1937: Diversity of talents
CCC 2331, 2334: Dignity of woman
CCC 1603-1605: Marriage in the order of creation

“The Parable of the Unfaithful Servant”
by an UNKNOWN German Master, c. 1580



Readings and Commentary:[4]


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.
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Commentary on  Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

This entire section (Proverbs 31:10-31) is an acrostic poem (each strophe starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is sincere praise for the virtuous wife (unlike Ecclesiastes 7:28 in which the author finds guile) and is intended to be a model for the good Hebrew wife to follow. The strophes selected emphasize first the esteem in which she is to be held by all (not just her family), and next the example of diligence in the tasks she performs. The concluding strophe is praise for the woman who “fears the Lord,” as indicated earlier in Proverbs 9:10 and 1:7. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 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.
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Commentary on Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Psalm 128 is a song of thanksgiving. It begins here with the typical blessings given to those following and having faith in the Lord. This selection uses the analogy of the family and the blessing it brings to the faithful, using the symbolism of vines and olives, imagery commonly used in sacred scripture.

It also supports the creation of woman and the marriage theme in Genesis 2:18-25. It is the logical extension of the two becoming one flesh and the children flowing from that union.

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Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers,
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, 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.
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Commentary on 1 Thes 5:1-6

St. Paul takes up the theme of vigilance and preparedness with the Thessalonians in this selection. He reminds them that the hour and the day of the Lord’s coming are not known, and that, unlike those who live in darkness (the pagans), they are children of the light. His tone makes it clear that his expectation is that the Parousia (the second coming of Christ) is coming soon.

CCC: 1 Thes 5:2-3 675; 1 Thes 5:2 673; 1 Thes 5:5 1216; 1 Thes 5:6 2849
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"It will be as when a man who was 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.'"
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Commentary on Mt 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents comes to us as part of Jesus’ dialogue about being prepared and vigilant. It combines two different but connected logions or morals/teaching points. The first is to use the gifts God has given for the benefit of God, who is represented by the “Master” in the parable. The second is vigilance. This parable, directed at the disciples, exhorts his servants to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest, for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus' earlier statement: “those to whom much is given, even more will be expected” (see also Luke 12:48).

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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"It will be as when a man
who was 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.
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.'"
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Commentary on Mt 25:14-15, 19-21

This shorter form of the Gospel focuses narrowly on the need for the faithful to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus' earlier statement “those to whom much is given, even more will be expected.

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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Reflection:

In the modern day and age the first scripture passages we are given today will be considered to be “stereo-typical and sexist,” since the picture painted of the “worthy wife” is one who is industrious in what might be called “homey” things.  We would point out, however, that the image painted is no more guilty of stereotyping women – wives as home-bodies – than other scripture is about painting the role of men in strictly decision-making roles.  We accept the literary form offered as it was intended, to provide guidance and wisdom to the faithful, and to be appreciated, taking into account the social structures and conventions of the time, and audience for which they were originally intended.

Does that mean that all people who disregard and discredit the conservative attitudes expressed in these poems are correct?  No; it also does not mean that those who take these images literally and attempt to enforce them today are correct, especially if they use these passages as excuses to exercise dominance or control over another.  Where then does the truth lie?  For according to Church teaching (Dei Verbum, 11.), we believe as St. Timothy said: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We look to the underlying principle that stimulated this praise of virtue.  The values extolled in this passage are those we should value in all persons, regardless of gender or station in life.  Beyond the first part of the poem in which praise is expressed for the worthy person, the principal virtues are twofold. First is industriousness.  The person is not slothful, they do not sit around doing no work, taking no part in the effort of providing for the comfort of the family.  The worthy wife in this example exercises her skill in clothing and feeding the family (in past ages this was done directly, in the modern era it is frequently done by all adult members of a family by doing a job that provides financial support for the family).

The second virtue mentioned in the selection from the poem in Proverbs is faith in God: “fear of the Lord.”  The person without faith has not learned the important lessons of the wise.  Most specifically the lessons include mutual love and respect.  With love of God comes humility before God.  With humility before God comes respect for like-minded followers of the Lord, including one’s spouse.  With respect and love comes a sacramental union, indestructible by the vicissitudes of this world.

Not surprisingly, the themes of diligence and faith are the two lessons taught by St. Matthew’s telling of the Parable of the Talents.  This story of course seems to apply to men rather than women. Hopefully the point made above was not lost when moving from Old to New Testaments.  Jesus' great lesson in this parable is that diligence in using the gifts God gives each of us is expected.  The servants who used what the master had left in their charge most effectively were rewarded.  The servant who did not use what was left in his charge out of “fear” was punished.

We can now come to a reasonable understanding of the main message today.  Regardless of station or gender, we are all expected to use the gifts God has given us – to his greater glory.  This last part is critical, and that point is made in both the Old and New Testaments.  When we start to think that we can use those gifts for our own benefit, forgetting who our master is (using the terms of the parable), we find ourselves the butt of another parable – see the parable of the unfaithful steward, Luke 12:45-48.

Today as we reflect in thanks upon the gifts God has given us, we rededicate ourselves to working diligently to please God and to bring about His Kingdom on earth.

Pax


[1] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[2] The picture used today is “The Parable of the Unfaithful Servant” by an UNKNOWN German Master, c. 1580
[4] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) November 19, 2017 (Scott Hahn)

Reading I: Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20, 30-31    Her value is far beyond pearls.

Responsorial Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5     R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.


Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6      The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30     Well done, good and faithful servant.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The day of the Lord is coming, Paul warns in today’s Epistle. What matters isn’t the time or the season, but what the Lord finds us doing with the new life, the graces He has given to us.

This is at the heart of Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel. Jesus is the Master. Having died, risen, and ascended into heaven, He appears to have gone away for a long time.

By our baptism, He has entrusted to each of us a portion of His “possessions,” a share in His divine life (see 2 Peter 1:4). He has given us talents and responsibilities, according to the measure of our faith (see Romans 12:3,8).

We are to be like the worthy wife in today’s First Reading, and the faithful man we sing of in today’s Psalm. Like them, we should walk in the “fear of the Lord”—in reverence, awe, and thanksgiving for His marvelous gifts. This is the beginning of wisdom (see Acts 9:31; Proverbs 1:7).

This is not the “fear” of the useless servant in today’s parable. His is the fear of a slave cowering before a cruel master, the fear of one who refuses the relationship that God calls us to.

He has called us to be trusted servants, fellow workers (see 1 Corinthians 3:9), using our talents to serve one another and His kingdom as good stewards of His grace (see 1 Peter 4:10).

In this, we each have a different part to play.

Though the good servants in today’s parable were given different numbers of talents, each “doubled” what he was given. And each earned the same reward for his faithfulness—greater responsibilities and a share of the Master’s joy.

So let us resolve again in this Eucharist to make much of what we’ve been given, to do all for the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). That we, too, may approach our Master with confidence and love when He comes to settle accounts.

Monday, November 13, 2017

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) November 19, 2017

Reading I: Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20, 30-31    Her value is far beyond pearls.

Responsorial Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5     R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6      The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30     Well done, good and faithful servant.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The three parables in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew are about the end times, the end of the world, the end (intent, purpose, and upshot) of our lives. Whatever is given to us—money, talent, opportunity—is meant to bear fruit for the kingdom, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

As the parable immediately following the one about the talents makes clear, the entire judgment of history and of each individual is based upon our service to the least of our brothers and sisters.

In its most fundamental sense, the image of the talent represents the bounty of life itself, as well as the preeminent gift of faith. If we are among those fortunate enough to reach the maturity required for personal responsibility and to have the opportunity to use the talents of life and faith, it is incumbent upon us to invest our gifts, not hide them out of fear or laziness.



source: John Kavanaugh, SJ



Saturday, November 11, 2017

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) November 12, 2017 Barron


32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
MATTHEW 25:1-13
Friends, our Gospel is the parable that compares the kingdom of heaven with “ten virgins who with their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom.” This is an image borrowed from the customs of the time. The bridesmaids would wait for the groom and, upon his appearance, would accompany him. 

Well, this is the Christian community, waiting for Christ the groom to arrive. Did Jesus tell this parable because he knew that his Church would be in for a long period of waiting? 

We are wise in our waiting if we pray on a regular basis, if we educate ourselves in the faith, if we participate in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, if we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, if we become people of love. We are foolish in our waiting if we neglect these things.

And here is one of the hardest truths of this parable: the divine life, so cultivated, cannot simply be shared with another at the last minute. The wise virgins are not being difficult and self-absorbed when they tell their friends that they can’t help them. A saint can’t simply infuse his life into another; it just doesn’t work that way. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) November 12, 2017


According to marriage customs of Jesus’ day, a bride was first “betrothed” to her husband but continued for a time to live with her family. Then, at the appointed hour some months later, the groom would come to claim her, leading her family and bridal party to the wedding feast that would celebrate and inaugurate their new life together.
This is the background to the parable of the last judgment we hear in Sunday's Gospel.
In the parable’s symbolism, Jesus is the Bridegroom (see Mark 2:19). In this, He fulfills God’s ancient promise to join himself forever to His chosen people as a husband cleaves to his bride (see Hosea 2:16-20). The virgins of the bridal party represent us, the members of the Church.
We were “betrothed” to Jesus in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 11:2Ephesians 5:25-27) and are called to lives of holiness and devotion until He comes again to lead us to the heavenly wedding feast at the end of time (see Revelation 19:7-921:1-4).
As St. Paul warns in Sunday's Epistle, Jesus is coming again, though we know not the day nor the hour.
We need to keep vigil throughout the dark night of this time in which Jesus might seem long delayed. We need to keep our souls’ lamps filled with the oil of perseverance and desire for God—virtues that are extolled in the First Reading and Psalm.
We are to seek Him in love, meditating upon His kindness, calling upon His name, striving to be ever more worthy of Him, to be found without spot or blemish when He comes.
If we do this, we will be counted as wise and the oil for our lamps will not run dry (see 1 Kings 17:16). We will perceive the Bridegroom, the Wisdom of God (see Proverbs 8:22-31,359:1-5), hastening toward us, beckoning us to the table He has prepared, the rich banquet that will satisfy our souls.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your spirit and they shall be created. And you will renew the face of the earth.
Lord by the light of your Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In that same spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in His consolation. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. 
Amen

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) November 5, 2017

Calling the Fathers: 

Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time


Readings:
Malachi 1:14b - 2b:2,  8-10   Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us?
Psalm 131:1-3    R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-913  We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. 
Matthew 23:1-12   Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
                                                                                                                                     (reiterated in Luke 18:14)

Though they were Moses’ successors, the Pharisees and scribes exalted themselves and made their mastery of the law a badge of social privilege. Worse, they lorded the law over the people (see Matthew 20:25). Like the priests Malachi condemns in today’s First Reading, they caused many to falter and be closed off from God.
In a word, Israel’s leaders failed to be good spiritual fathers of God’s people. Moses was a humble father figure, preaching the law but also practicing it—interceding and begging God’s mercy and forgiveness of the people’s sins (see Exodus 32:9-14; Psalm 90).
And Jesus reminds us today that all fatherhood—in the family or in the people of God—comes from the our Father in heaven (see Ephesians 3:15).  
founding fathers (see John 7:42); the Apostles taught about natural fatherhood (see Hebrews 12:7-11) and described themselves as spiritual fathers (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16)
The fatherhood of the Apostles and their successors, the Church’s priests and bishops, is a spiritual paternity given to raise us as God’s children. Our fathers give us new life in Baptism, and feed us the spiritual milk of the Gospel and the Eucharist (see 1 Peter 2:2-3). That’s why Paul, in today’s Epistle, can also compare himself to a nursing mother.
God’s fatherhood likewise transcends all human notions of fatherhood and motherhood. Perhaps that’s why the Psalm chosen for today includes one of the rare biblical images of God’s maternal care (see Isaiah 66:13).
His only Son has shown us the Father (see John 14:9) coming to gather His children as a hen gathers her young (see Matthew 23:37). We’re all brothers and sisters, our Lord tells us today. And all of us—even our spiritual fathers—are to trust in Him, humbly, like children on our mothers’ laps.