Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Jesus has some words this Sunday about investing what we receive. He tells the famous parable of the talents. The man who receives five talents, put them to work and made an additional five. The second receives two and makes two more. But the man who receives one talent, buries it. Jesus calls him "wicked" and "lazy." Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

A Different Kind of Accountability

This Sunday's Gospel story presents us with the last of the three parables that form Jesus' final discourse in Matthew's Gospel. Each of the three parables relates a different kind of accountability required of Christians as they prepare for their glorious encounter with Christ.

The central message of today's Gospel parable concerns the spirit of responsibility with which to receive God's Kingdom: a responsibility to God and to humanity. When the Master gives the servants the talents to look after he basically turns them from servants into managers. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says they are now expected to make decisions about how to manage the vast amount of money placed in their care. But despite this promotion, Father Cusick points out that we all remain servants of God. And we are still responsible to God for the way we use the abilities He has given us.

We are also to realize that like the three servants in Sunday’s Gospel, what each of us has been given is different. Some of us have received short straws. So, Fr. John J. Ludvik explains, Jesus does not expect us to “measure up” to our neighbor, per se. But we are nevertheless expected to give life a first class run with these gifts. We are not to bury our talents. How we use our abilities to enrich and help others is our fulfillment of Christ's command to love others as we love ourselves. And Love, explains Fr. John Foley, S. J., is the only one thing he knows spiritually that goes away if it is buried, but which gets greater if used.

Fear Factor

We live with fears. Fr. Orlando, Sapuay, M.S. says some of these fears are so complex or long-standing that we don't even know how we got them or where they originate. But in this passage, the one-talent man not only confesses he was afraid, but he gives us a hint of why that is true. The Good News of Jesus Christ, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains, is that we must abandon fear and be industrious, reliable and creative in doing God's will, lest we turn out to be like the third slave, "worthless, lazy louts"!

Our failure to take heed of the rest of what Jesus has said has sometimes made for a spirituality that is a half-truth. Fr. Ron Rolheiser warns us that in the name of religion, we have sometimes become unhealthily fearful, timid, and guilt-ridden. This means that the mere avoidance of serious sin does not make for good Christians. And if we are not moving forward, as Fr. James Gilhooley wisely cautions us, chances are good we march full speed backwards. So, perhaps we should extend the meaning of the parable a little further and think of the many ways that the life entrusted to us can be wasted, even without doing evil things. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler explains this in his reflection.

Be Ready for the End

Should we be afraid of death? Should we be afraid of the end of time? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino quotes St. Paul who tells the Thessalonians - we know that we should but we shouldn’t be afraid that it will catch us off guard. And what is the antidote to fear? It is this: an attitude of gratitude. Whatever God has given you, Fr. Phil Bloom urges us all, thank Him and ask his help to invest it as best you can.

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Church

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Major Basilica St. John Lateran. It is one of those few feast days on the Church’s calendar that require some digging before its value is even minimally appreciated. When we do invest the time, the yield is rich. So Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP took out her shovels and uncovered some gems. Paul Dion, STL also takes this opportunity to communicate an important element of our Catholic Faith tradition that we do not often consider. It has to do with the churches that have played an important role in our history as Christians.

Purposeful Prayer, the Bible & Catholic Wellness

It may surprise you to learn that America is decidedly pro-Bible. According to research commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna Research polled 2,000 Americans and discovered that nine out of 10 households own a Bible. A full 86 percent of people surveyed indicated that they consider the Bible to be sacred or holy. That’s the good news. The bad news is why aren't they reading it?

This reflection by Msgr. Charles Pope may help us understand the role the Bible plays in our lives. He says only with God’s help can we begin to realize that “The Most important things in life aren’t things” is more than a slogan. Only with God’s help and a lifetime of grace can we ever hope to really appreciate this insight and absolutely true. In heh second of his two-fer reflection on the Bible, he looks at the story of St. Paul’s arrest, beating and imprisonment at Philippi that serves as a kind of paradigm for the radicality of true Christianity and why it so perturbs many in this world.

Cheryl Dickow also delivers her own two-fer this week. In the first one, she talks about Catholic Health and Wellness. She expresses how she has come to realize that while the initial good intention is a necessary first step to health and wellness, a viable course of action must accompany it—preferably something not too painful, boring, or time-consuming. And in her second reflection, she warns about how we often try to insert our own liberties and try to direct God in our prayers every time we suffix the words "so that..." to them. Think about that for a second.

From the Vatican, two stories likewise come down from the pope. ‏First, Benedict XVI is recommending that young people use the Gospel as they make future plans. And secondly, he reminds the world that death and life in Christ is more than a changing season. He says God's intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle. It only obeys His grace and faithfulness.

Top Ten Lists

Here's a couple of Top Ten lists we encountered this week. The first is "10 Steps To Get Involved in the Pro-Life Movement" by Susan B. Anthony. You might have said to yourself: I am opposed to abortion, I want Roe v. Wade to be overturned, I want pro-life heroes to be leading our country and the states, but HOW? This article's for you.

The second list presented by Donna Hicks is a bit more philosphical. It talks about powerful internal self-preservation forces we have that can be so harmful if we don’t develop an awareness of them, and learn how to restrain them. She calls her list the “Ten Temptations”-- ways to maintain your dignity when your instincts think they know better.

Church-Goers and Not

A Gallup report that fewer Democrats than Republicans tend to be churchgoers. About 52 percent of Democrats or those who lean Democrat seldom or never attend church. Among Republicans or those who lean Republican, 38 percent say they seldom or never attend church. Do what you wish with these numbers, but one soul turned away from God - regardless of political party affiliation - is one too much. So we Catholics have our work cut out for us.

Which brings us to the church-goers, some of them you've talked to when they knocked on your doors many times in the past. I am talking about the Protestant missionaries the likes of which I have had the frequent pleasure of entertaining on my front porch for Bible sharing. And I must admit equally for frequent Bible misunderstandings. I can't help but share this funny story from Patrick Madrid. It is a hysterical albeit mythical account of an encounter between a pair of Mormon door-knockers and a Jehovah's Witness homeowner. I mean no disrespect by sharing this tale. But there are some Catechetical lessons Catholics can learn from this.

We Need Your Help Today

For the first time ever, we are sending out an appeal for assistance from our readers. It is no secret that this economy has been hard on Catholic parishes. And it has not been easy for us as well. The Gospel for this Sunday tells us that what Christ has given us is multiplied in its giving.So we ask you to please consider giving a financial gift to our ministry. We will use your gifts - all 100% of it - to construct parish websites and mobile apps for the many needy parishes that currently wait for us to gift them with our service ministry.

Proverbs 19:17 tells us: "He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Your assistance to us will indeed be a good deed in the eyes of God. For you are not just helping our ministry. You are also helping many communities of faith stay strong to their Catholic roots, beginning with the grateful parish members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Buckley, WA. Please click here to send your contribution.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is it OK for God to get angry?
FEATURED BLOG: "So that..."

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