Wednesday, 12 November 2014

16/11/14 We do not belong to the night or to darkness.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Welcome again to a little liturgy.  This week as we reflect on talents, I am acutely aware that I am still at the bottom of the blog learning curve and am hoping to enable comments for next week but no promises!  It also occurs to me, as I delve deeper into matters ecclesiastical and theological, that I am also at the bottom of the faith learning curve.  I am hoping that this is a good place to start!

Summary of the Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
In the Book of Proverbs we find a description of the perfect wife.  It is not someone who is extremely beautiful but a very good person who "holds out her hands to the poor" and "opens her arms to the needy".  The passage ends by saying that the wife should be praised and rewarded for her work.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 127:1-5. R. v.1
O blessed are those who fear the Lord

Second Reading
Thessalonians 5:1-6
St Paul talks of the "Day of the Lord" meaning the end of the physical world for us.  He says it will come like a thief in the night when everything seems calm.  However, he says that we are lucky because we have been given light so that we may be awake and sober when the time comes.

Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus uses another parable to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven is like.  He tells a story of a man who was leaving his house and land for a while.  He decided to summon his servants to leave instructions about who was to look after his property.

The story mentions three servants.  One received a gift of five talents.  Another servant received a gift of two talents and the last one received a gift of one talent.  They were to be responsible for this money while the man was away.

On his return, the man called the three servants and asked how they were managing his money.  The first, who had received five talents, had made five more.  The second who had received two talents had made two more.  However, the man who had received just one talent had been too scared to trade or invest and had buried the single talent in the ground; he was only able to give back one talent.

The man was very annoyed with this servant and called him wicked and lazy.  He thought that he should have made some extra money for him.  He took the one talent and gave it to the servant who had five saying "As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth".


Rather oddly in the reading from the Book of Proverbs we are given a description of what it could be like to have a strong wife.  This is less odd when put in the context of the whole book which is a set of verses giving short pieces of advice from different people.  Scholars usually suggest that the good wife is a personification of the quality of Wisdom.  So we may think that being wise is a bit like finding the most amazing wife in the world!

St Paul tells us that we should be able to be ready for the day when Christ comes again because we have been given the light which helps us.  By this he means that we have been given the opportunity to know God through Christ.

This week we hear in the Gospel that we are expected to make a profit from the gifts that God gives us.  The master in the story, who can be compared to God, seems rather harsh.  We can imagine that the servant who only received one talent may have been a nervous, anxious man who simply did not have a talent for making money!  He is, however, punished for being lazy; we cannot help but feel sorry for him.

It seems that we are being told that God expects us to be productive.  This means that we cannot simply sit back comfortably and enjoy being Christian.  This Gospel is often interpreted to mean that we should use our God given "talents" to serve God through our communities.

This week we are asked again to focus on the kingdom of heaven.  St Paul talks about the Day of the Lord.  These are both abstract constructs for us as we have no experience to compare them with.  Jesus tried to help us understand that the kingdom can be created by our behaviour here on earth and that we do not have to wait until we die to enter it.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus described the behaviours that would make us part of this kingdom.  In the parables he uses he talks of us being servants, guests at a feast or workers in a vineyard. Think about how these roles might reflect the relationship we have with God.  

Activity during Mass

Think about the servant in the Gospel story who did not make a profit with what the master gave him.  He is accused of being wicked and lazy.  He didn't do what he was supposed to do in his job as servant.

Below is a list of some of the things that we are expected to do in our job as Christians.  Mark yourself out of 3 for how well you did on these tasks this week.  

3= did this well
2= sort of did this
1 = didn't really do this

Underline the ones you would like to try to do next week.  

A) loving God:

reading about God
asking questions and thinking about God

B) loving your neighbour

including others in activities
helping with chores
showing gratitude for things
saying sorry
being generous in our opinions

C) taking care of God's gifts to us

eating sensibly
talking about problems
concentrating at school
thinking carefully about our actions
saving resources
not wasting food
keeping things clean and tidy

You might want to add your own examples to this list.

The master in the Gospel admits "I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered".  This does not sound like the action of a fair master.  Jesus is saying that God expects a great deal from us.  

Look out for the following words in the Creed:

"He will come again to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end."

Many theologians suggest that the master in today's Gospel story is like Jesus returning to judge people at the end of time.  When he left the world he gave us a responsibility for its people and resources.  He wants us to do a good job.   

A specific way that we can show that we are doing a good job is by celebrating the Eucharist with our community.  At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread and wine and said:

"Take this, all of you, and eat of it..."
"Take this, all of you and, and drink from it ..."

and then 

"Do this in memory of me. " 

By taking part in the liturgy we are following the instructions that Jesus gave us before he went away.
Listen out for these instructions at the consecration.    

Other Activities and Useful Resources

Below is a link on youtube to a short clip recounting today's parable:

The parable of the talents

And here is a discussion of what it might mean:

Brief discussion of the parable

more thoughts on this parable here:

further discussion

The Gospel we heard today, often called the Parable of the Talents, was read at Nelson Mandela's funeral.  Find out about his life and listen to him on the link below:

Youtube clip of Nelson Mandela

Think about why this reading was chosen.

Take a look at the link below to learn more about the book of Proverbs and the advice offered there.

The Book of Proverbs

Last week's question

How do you become a saint?


This is an interesting question.  I would suggest that we split the answer into two parts:

A) What are the qualities that might make someone a saint? 
B) How do you get the title Saint in front of your name?

A) Think again of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says, for example, "Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".  To be blessed and to enter the kingdom of heaven is really what we mean by being a saint.  A person who behaves in a way that Jesus would approve of and follows his example, often in very difficult circumstances, is regarded as being particularly close to God.  There are many people like this who are not officially recognised as saints.   

B)  The process the church follows when it is deciding whether to make someone an official saint or not is very strict and can be very lengthy.  There are two stages to becoming a saint "beatification" and "canonisation".  There is a great deal of investigation into the life and character of the person and the church requires proof that the potential saint is close to God.  One way that this is demonstrated is by miracles resulting from praying to the person.  

Click on the link below which takes you to a website focussed on Saint Mary MacKillop where you will find a clear, yet detailed account of the process.  

Canonisation process explained

We should remember that there are many ways of being a saint and that many recognised saints struggled with lots of things during their lives.  They were not perfect!  Recent canonisations are those of John Henry Newman, Pope John Paul II and John XXIII.  

This week's question

Why do we sometimes say "Christ" and sometimes "Jesus"?

Log on next week for some ideas on this one.

I hope you have found something useful this week.


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