33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

Only The One Who Takes No Risk Is Condemned.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:       Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:       Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:         As the church year nears its end, we reflect on how faithfully we are living as children of light. Our desire is to be ready to meet Jesus when he returns.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Proverbs 31:10-13.19-20.30-31

Introduction to the reading: The book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings, compiled over a number of centuries.  Today’s passage is part of a lengthy poem which praises the virtues of a good wife and mother.

 

A reading from the Book of Proverbs

Who can find a good wife?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

The word of the Lord. 

Responsorial psalm: Psalm 128:1-2.3.4-5

 R/: Blessed are all who fear the Lord.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

and walk in his ways!

By the labour of your hands you shall eat.

You will be blessed and prosper.

 

Your wife like a fruitful vine

in the heart of your house;

Your children like shoots of the olive

around your table.

 

Indeed thus shall be blessed

the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Sion.

May you see Jerusalem prosper

all the days of your life!

 

R/:  Blessed are all who fear the Lord.

 

Second reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Introduction to the reading: Paul and the early Christians expected the immediate Second Coming of Christ.  Today, as he concludes his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds them to be prepared for this.  His message is encouraging, not frightening.

 

A reading from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

As to the times and the seasons,
brothers and sisters,
you have no need to have anything written to you.
For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord
will come like a thief in the night.
When people say, “There is peace and security,”
then sudden destruction will come upon them
as labour pains come upon a woman with child,
and there will be no escape.
But you are not in darkness,
brothers and sisters,
for that day to surprise you like a thief.
For you are all children of light and children of the day;
we are not of the night or of darkness.
So then let us not sleep, as others do,
but let us keep awake and be sober.

The Word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Abide in me, and I in you, says the Lord; he who abides in me bears much fruit.
Alleluia!

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

At that time:
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey called his servants
and entrusted to them his property;
to one he gave five talents,
to another two,
to another one,
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
He who had received the five talents
went at once and traded with them;
and he made five talents more.
So also, he who had the two talents
made two talents more.
But he who had received the one talent
went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Now after a long time
the master of those servants came
and settled accounts with them.
And he who had received the five talents came forward,
bringing five talents more, saying,
‘Master, you delivered to me five talents;
here I have made five talents more.
His master said to him,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant;
you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much;
enter into the joy of your master.
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying,
‘Master, you delivered to me two talents;
here I have made two talents more.’
His master said to him,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant;
you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much;
enter into the joy of your master.’
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying,
‘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.
Here you have what is yours.’

But his master answered him,
‘You wicked and slothful servant!
You knew that I reap where I have not sowed,
and gather where I have not winnowed?
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers,
and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
So take the talent from him,
and give it to him who has the ten talents.
For to every one who has, will more be given,
and he will have abundance;
but from him who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness;
there will weeping and gnashing their teeth.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 Homily

There is an old parachute joke about the guy who was having trouble trusting. His friend said, “I know the best solution for your problem. A parachute jump will fix your problem of trust and lack of confidence.” It took a lot of talking before they managed to persuade him to go on a parachute jump.  So, he went and did all the training for his first jump. But just before he was to jump, he got very nervous. His friend assured him, “It’s very easy. You jump out of the plane, and then pull the rip cord. If for some reason it doesn’t work, you pull the second cord, which is a back-up – guaranteed absolutely to work! Trust me! Then you just enjoy your trip floating down and a car will be waiting for you and will drive you back to the airport.” So, the guy jumped out of the plane. He pulled the rip cord, and nothing happened. “Oh, no!” he thought. “I’ll pull the back-up cord.” He did. Nothing happened. And the guy was plummeting down, and he said to himself, “Oh, no! And I bet the car won’t be there either.” 😊

The parable of the talents also has a guy who struggles to trust. Let’s see what happens.

The parable is pretty simple. A wealthy man leaves his goods for each of three servants to care for while he is gone. He doesn’t give them instructions, at least none that we are told of. When he returns, he sees that two of the three servants have invested the money and got back twice the amount. He is delighted.

So at this point the moral of the story would be: “Make the most of what you have.” It is easy to stop there and feel comfortable about what Jesus is saying.

But then we come to the most interesting part of all. We look at the fascinating and puzzling story of the third servant. This poor soul did not invest the money at all. He buried it. Quite simply, he was afraid of investing it and losing it.

He was right to be afraid, given the owner’s attitude. The owner listened to the fearful servant’s story and then had the man thrown into “the darkness outside,” where there would be “wailing and grinding of teeth.” Quite an overreaction, it seems. The poor guy just wanted to keep the owner’s money safe!

Maybe the proprietor was simply a “demanding person,” as the parable says. Dark spirited. But there is much more to it. The monetary unit “talent” in Jesus’ time was not a small amount. Even one talent could be worth more than a labourer would earn in a lifetime. Imagine a thousand gold coins – real gold coins – that give an indication of how much a talent was. And the owner entrusted a lot more than just money to the servants—he left them all his possessions, everything he had. He took a great risk and he wanted them to do the same, not leave the investment mouldering around somewhere.

Ok, now make the switch. Assume that the parable is about God. Maybe God entrusts an even greater amount to you and me! Life, abilities, the gift of love, the living breathing human beings around us, and every so often, real and open acts of unselfish love. God gives all this free of charge, gives to us our own lives with all their rewards and catastrophes, and he says to us, dive in. Have your life. Make whatever you will with it because you are my own beloved.

It is wonderful. But then an awful question arises. Does God curse those who are afraid and who bury what they are given? Jesus at least seems to say so.

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.

Ouch. That hurts.

I think we now need to start asking questions about Jesus. Is Jesus a financial advisor? I don’t see at the end of the parable a disclaimer saying: Jesus Christ is an authorised financial services provider. And that is because the parable is not about money. It is not reminding us that we need to make good investments with the money that I have.

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.

To understand this saying, we look at the area of spirituality. There is one thing I know of that will go away if it is buried, but which gets greater if you use it.

Love.

If fear closes the door tightly against love, guess where the loveless one will be. In the darkness outside the door, wailing and gnashing those teeth. Without love. Get this: We are all frightened, and God always has compassion upon us. God waits for ages to see if we will not accept just a bit of the love he offers, and if we will even find just enough courage to invest some of it in other people. God is often disappointed in this risk he takes, and I’m sure he says, “oh no, not again” when we fail.

But this is the disappointment of someone who loves us very well.

Let love in.  Love casts out fear.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus told this parable to his disciples:

“A man was going on a journey He called in his servants and handed his funds over to them according to each person’s abilities…..

After a long absence, the master of those servants came home and settled accounts with them.”

Reflection:

Discipleship isn’t a holding back for fear of making a mistake, or looking like a fool. Judging from today’s parable, it requires a spirit of risk and boldness, sometimes in big matters, but mostly in small daily occurrences.  God gives to us our own lives with all their rewards and catastrophes, and he says to us, dive in – so that we will hear him call us “good and faithful servants.”

So we ask ourselves:

  • Do I treat my faith as something fragile, keeping it close and protected as if it will break if brought out into the open?
  • In my daily life, do I recognise God in the small things of my life?

 

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          Let us bring our needs and petitions before the Lord.

 

Reader:

We pray for the Church: (pause)

that Pope Francis’s message on this World Day of the Poor to “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” may inspire us to give of ourselves selflessly in solidarity with those in need.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are facing an end, to a relationship, to employment, or to good health: (pause)

that God may give them hope and lead them through the pain and confusion of the adjustments that are required.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for young people: (pause) that they may be helped to find the unique giftedness with which God has graced every human person.
LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are combating the coronavirus: (pause) that God will bring healing to the sick, strength to their caregivers, and wisdom to those researching cures.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for all the faithful departed on the Pious Lists.

LORD HEAR US

 

Leader:          Let us pray the Prayer for the 2020 World Day of the Poor:

 

Almighty, ever-living God,

your beloved Son came to us in poverty to win for us the riches of eternal life.

During His time on earth He taught us by word and deed.

From His death we learned of the immensity of His love;

from His resurrection we learned how to believe and to trust

that our lives have purpose from beginning to end.

 

Help us never to forget that every person has value and is loved by You.

Remind us that, as Your people grow older,

they do not cease to be people worthy of respect, understanding and appreciation.

Though the bodies of the elderly may become frail,

we pray that their faith may empower them;

though their minds may falter,

we pray that their memories may bring them comfort and peace.

 

Lord God, may we never forget your Golden Rule

to treat others as we would wish to be treated

and remember to apply that Rule most especially

during the golden years of age.

 

As we journey through this life side by side,

may we learn to support one another
with the combined wealth of youth, strength, wisdom and experience

until we are called to the place you have prepared

for all those who are poor in spirit and rich in love.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,

who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

 

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus,
I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment,
feed my soul at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Amen.

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:           O God,

from whose own abundance

all gifts and skills are lavishly bestowed,

encourage us to use our talents

as generously as you have allotted them,

so that, being faithful to your purpose,

we may become sharers in your glory.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Blessing

 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                 Amen.