The Bishops Homily – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017

33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 19 November 2017
Prov. 31: 10-13; 19-20; 30-31
I Thes. 5: 1-6
Mt. 25: 14-30

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel this Sunday is the very challenging Parable of the Talents. The dynamic of investment, risk, and return is a very good model of the spiritual life. Your being increases in the measure that you give it away. That’s the Law of the Gift and it can be found from end to end of the Bible. One application of this Law has to do with faith itself. Your faith will grow in the measure that you share it with others.

(1) CONTEXT: A man goes to a journey. Before leaving, he entrusts money to three of his trusted servants. To one, he gives five (5) talents; to a second, two (2) and to a third, one (1) — each according to his ability. The first servant traded his five talents in the open market — today, indeed very risky!

The second does the same and both doubled their money. The third man, cautious, buries his talent sure to give back to the master upon his return. When the master returns, he praises the first two servants and gives them a greater responsibility. The third man he upbraids as “you wicked, lazy servant” and takes away the talent from him and gives it to the one with ten.

(2) INTERPRETATION: A talent is an enormous amount of money. Jesus loves to tell stories taken from rural life but this one is taken from the world of business — for us in the West, closer to our experience. The dynamic of investment, risk, and return provide a good model for the spiritual life.

The reason for this is God exists in gift-form. The Divine Being is a letting/giving God. We see this in the Trinitarian relation. The Father is such in relation to the Son; the Son is son in relation to the Father; the Spirit is so only in relation to the Father and the Son. Therefore, if you want to have God’s life in you, you must become conformed to his way of being.

We think that if we want to have God’s life in us, we have to take and get. Well, no! Quite the opposite! You have to learn how to give, if you want to have God. Let this little formula sink deep! This is the way to sum up Christian life.

Think of the talents now as everything we receive from God: life, breath, being, all our power of mind and will. Because they come from God, they are meant to become gifts. If you cling to these in the manner of the third servant, they don’t grow; in fact, they wither away.

The first two servants received more. Why? Because they risked what they have been given. They were willing to give it away and thereby doubled their wealth. That is why at the end of the Parable there is the conclusion: “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.” (v. 29)

What it means is the one who truly has the Divine Life knows how to give it away and that in turn will make the original gift increase. The opposite holds true! If you try to cling to the Divine Life, you will in short order lose it. The Divine Life cannot be clung to because it is in gift-form.

Therefore, if you spend your life clinging to God’s gifts, you will in short order lose them. What happens is that we sinners get caught up in the bad rhythm trying continuously to fill ourselves when in fact we should be emptying ourselves out. In the language of Peter Moren, “We are a country of go-getters where as Christians we should be go-givers.”

(3) APPLICATION: Let us apply the above principle to Evangelization or the sharing of the Faith. Life increases in the manner that you give it away; so Faith increases in the manner that you share it. There are many people who struggle with unbelief or with weakened faith either because our faith is under attack from a lot of different angles or because a person has undergone a difficult experience in life like a death of a loved one. Remember the principle!

Some people can’t seem to begin sharing their faith until they are really sure. No, it is in the very act of sharing our faith that our faith becomes strong. It would be wrong to wait around until one’s faith is strong enough to share it. Remember again the economic content of Jesus’ Parable: money won’t grow until it is risked. A safe strategy is self-defeating. Your faith has to be risked! Privatizing our faith is the surest way to losing it. It has never been easy to proclaim our faith!

CONCLUSION: Find some concrete way to profess your faith or share your faith in such a way that it grows even a little!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD 
Bishop of Novaliches