Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - (Prov 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1The 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30)
“Knowing God and Trusting Him drives away Fear”
Dearly Beloved, I wish to welcome each and every one of you to the 33rd Sunday in ordinary time, Year A. Jesus speaks to us about how trusting in God will dispel fear and anxiety from our hearts; especially if you are so consumed by fear and anxiety as a result of all that is happening in our world’s economy, politics, health etc. Before I get to the readings for this weekend permit me to share this famous story by the American Baptist minister and the founder and first president of Temple University in Philadelphia, Russell Herman Conwell. This particular story is titled “Acres of Diamond.”
Acres of Diamonds is a story about a very wealthy man who owned a large farmhouse. One day he heard someone talk about lots of diamonds deposited in some new settlement and how people who were living in that area were becoming very rich. That night, the wealthy farmer could not sleep. He began to see himself as a poor man and made up his mind to sell his farmhouse and move over to the diamond-strewn area.
Some years after moving to the area, he could not find even a piece of a diamond. He later became miserable and ended his life by drowning himself in a river. One day, the person who bought his property saw pieces of stones by the side of the stream by the farm- house. They looked nice, and he took one of them home.
On one occasion, a merchant visited the man and, seeing the stone, he shouted and said: “This is the biggest raw diamond I have ever seen in my life! From where did you get it?” The man was amazed and told the merchant that there are many of them down the farmland. Later, the man discovered that the farmhouse he bought was sitting on acres of raw diamonds. Behold, the original owner sold it having searched for diamonds which he never got. Often the things we seek are within us while we wander about looking for them in the wrong places. In Christ, we are all standing on acres of diamonds; we only need to be aware of it.
In this penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year, the Gospel presents to us the parable of the Talents (cf. Mt 25:14-30). Before setting off on a journey, a man gives his servants talents, which at that time were coins of considerable value: he gives five talents to one servant, two to another, one to another, to each according to his ability. Jesus shows some sophisticated knowledge of market economy. He is aware of investment, interest rates, and stocks. This parable follows directly after the parables of the 10 virgins, in which the theme reminded us last week to “stay awake.” The setting of this parable is still within the last week of Jesus’ passion. Jesus tells this parable to illustrates how the leaders of the people had buried the treasures and mysteries of God entrusted to them, instead of allowing God to reveal Himself through them to the “nations.”
Beloved, our understanding of the English word Talent, has come from today’s parable. At the time of Jesus’ parable, a talent was a gold or silver coins that could weighed about 77 pounds. One gold talent was the equivalent of 15 years of wages. So, you now have an idea of the monetary value of one talent today. Since the 15th century however, talents have come to mean giftedness or skills. St. Peter in his first letter reminds us. “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 11 Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1Peter 4:10-11.
Whiles the first two stewards traded with their talents to double them, the third had this to say “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” (vv. 24-25). His greatest obstacle is his “perceived knowledge” of God “… I knew you …”
This parable helps us understand how a distorted view about God; His love and mercy, power and might could lead to poor life choices and decisions. Underneath many of our actions and inaction lie our basic knowledge of God. If you trust God; His omnipotence and omniscience, it will not be so difficult to leave things under His control. On the other hand, if you have a distorted view about God, you will easily feel overwhelmed in the midst of adversity; concentrate on the problem; get overwhelmed and live in constant fear. Fear immobilizes and paralyzes us; it causes our self-destruction.
Beloved, in much the same way as this third person, we tend to give legitimate reason towards our fears in a time like this; the rise in corona virus cases and the number of deaths, the loss of jobs and economic uncertainty; the political distress and many more. You may have given words to describe what all these mean after many prayers, adorations, fasting, novenas and all forms of devotions to God. There can be a sense that God is no longer in control. A FALSE KNOWLEDGE. Be reminded however, that God is not constrained and limited by time and space as we are; and His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways are our ways. He is asking you to still commit yourselves in doing your best in every situation; because He rewards EFFORTS and not necessarily RESULTS. Your effort to still pray, to hope, to love, to forgive and above all have faith and trust in His goodness of love and mercy towards His creation.
Friends, especially to any of you who is troubled and fearful of these times we find ourselves; I pray that you will come to know the truth about God’s love and mercy to sustain you even when you have made mistakes; I pray that you will understand God’s power and might to behold His ability to rule over His creation and that He is still in control. Do not believe that voice which gives you enough evidence to suggest that this world is out of God’s power and control. Do these, and your life will be free from the fear and anxiety that engulfs those who do not know Him.