Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, During this month of November, the month dedicated to relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, let us ask our Blessed Mother and our good Lord for the grace to show charity to our neighbors, including praying for the Faithful Departed. This Sunday is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. I share with you a reflection on the Parable of the Talents. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “Generosity towards God: We are stewards of God’s gifts. During these final weeks of the liturgical year, the Church calls us to consider the eternal truths. These truths are of immediate relevance to our souls. As we read in the Second Reading of today’s Mass, our encounter with the Lord will arrive without warning, like a thief in the night. (1 Thess. 5:1-6) No matter how prepared we think we are for its arrival, death always takes us by surprise. In today’s Gospel the Lord teaches us that we must spend our earthly life in such a way as to win Heaven. (Matt. 25:14-30) Jesus compares our time on earth to a long-term leasing arrangement. For it will be as when 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. The he went away. The owner knew the capacity of each of his servants. He did not want to burden every one of them with the same responsibility. That would have been unjust. He therefore gave according to each one’s capability to receive. Despite the different amounts allotted to them, each servant had been entrusted with a considerable sum. After some time had passed, the master returned from his travels and came to settle accounts with his men. The servant with five talents produced five talents more. In like manner, the servant with two talents had doubled his share. These servants had made good use of their time to yield additional earnings. Consequently, each on thoroughly deserved these wonderful words of praise and blessing from their lord: 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. The meaning of the parable is crystal clear. We are the servants. The talents are the qualities God has bestowed on us – our intelligence, our ability to love, our power to make others happy, temporal goods … The journey of the master signifies the duration of our life. His unexpected return signifies our death. The settling of accounts is our judgment. The banquet is Heaven. The Lord frequently reminds us in the Gospels that we do not own what we have. We are stewards entrusted with God’s property. A day will come when we shall have to give an account of our behavior. Let us examine our whole approach to the gifts we have received from God. Do we think of ourselves as stewards, or do we live under the illusion that we are the true owners of what we possess? We might want to reflect on our attitude towards our body and senses. Do we really use them so as to give glory to God? Do we contribute to the common good with our belongings, our professional work, our friendships? The Lord wants to see that His gifts have been well administered. His reward is in direct proportion to what He has already granted us. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more. (Luke 12:48) Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little. This is what the lord said to the man who received five talents. What men may see as much, God views as little. Enter into the joy of your master – this outcome is what God sees as valuable. What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, (is) what God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor. 2:9) We surely want to be found vigilant when the Lord arrives. Nothing could be more important. Let us make use of the time we have to make ready. How happy He will be to find us alert and on the watch! My Lord, we will tell Him, I have lived my life for Your glory and nothing else. Life is a time to serve God enthusiastically. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. When the lord asked this servant to give an accounting, all he could offer were excuses. He said: 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. This last servant represents man when he is not faithful to God. This person is overcome with fear and self-love. He attempts to justify his behavior by alluding to the purportedly unjust expectations of the lord who reaps where he has not sown. (John Paul II, Address, 18 November 1984) The master angrily responds to this lazy fellow: You wicked and slothful servant! He had disregarded an essential truth – that man was created to know, love and serve God in this life. Then he is to see him and possess him in Heaven. When God is known well, it is not hard to love him. And when God is truly loved, it is not difficult to serve him. Nor is it humiliating. In fact, it even becomes a pleasure to serve him. A person who truly loves does not even think that it is degrading and dishonorable to serve his beloved. He never feels humiliated while serving the one he loves. Now then, the third servant knew his master well. At least he had had as many opportunities to know him as the other two servants had. And in spite of that it is obvious that he did not love him. And when love is missing, serving becomes very difficult. (F. Suarez, The Afterlife, p. 106) We can see into this servant’s heart from his cold description of the master as a hard man. This lazy servant did not serve his master because of an absence of love. It is interesting to note that the opposite of laziness is diligence. The Latin root of diligence is diligere, to love, to choose after careful study. Love motivates a person to give true service. Laziness is the result of a failure to love. The Lord uses this parable to reprove those who either fail to develop their gifts, or pervert their use for the sake of serf-love. Let us examine our conduct today. How do we use our time? Are we punctual and orderly in our work? When we are at home, do we give our full attention to family matters? Do we practice a lively apostolate of friendship and confidence? Are we seriously striving to extend the Kingdom of Christ to all souls? Using our time well. Life is short. That is why we have to make good use of the life we have remaining to us. Sacred Scripture reminds us over and over again about the fleeting nature of our earthly existence. The breath in our nostrils is smoke … Our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud and be scattered like mist that is chased by the rays of the sun and overcome by its heat. (Wis. 2:2-4) Man is like a breath, his days are like passing shadow. (Ps. 143:4) He comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow, and continues not. (Job 14:2) Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. (Jas. 1:9-10) What a shame it would be to have as one’s occupation in life that of killing time which is a God-given treasure! … How sad not to turn to good account and obtain a real profit from the few or many talents that God has given to each man so that he may dedicate himself to the task of serving other souls and the whole of society! When a Christian kills time on this earth, he is putting himself in danger of ‘killing Heaven’ for himself, that is, if through selfishness, he backs out of things and hides away and doesn’t care. (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 46) If we are to make good use of our time, we need to fulfill our duties in an exemplary fashion. Making good use of our time could involve spending an afternoon caring for a sick person. It could mean helping a friend prepare for a difficult exam. A selfish person would look down on such activities as a waste of time, but we know that selfless acts of charity can win us entry to Heaven. Making good use of our time also involves putting our head and our heart into whatever we are doing, no matter how trivial or important our activity might appear to be. We should resolve not to spend time frivolously, for example by worrying about our past life. Nor should we fret unduly about the future. The Lord wants us to live in the present moment, to sanctify the only bit of time that truly exists, for the past and the future exist only in the imagination. Our Father God will grant us the grace to handle whatever trials may come our way. Jesus himself has given us this tender assurance: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matt. 6:34) When we conscientiously struggle to live the present moment to the full, then we will find ourselves both more productive and less harried. St. Teresa of Avila once recalled the circumstances of her arrival in Salamanca to found a new convent. In the company of another nun named Maria del Sacramento, Teresa took possession of a house which had only just been vacated by some students and was in shambles. The two nuns entered the house by night and were exhausted from their journey and the cold weather. The church bells were ringing because it was the night of All Souls. A flickering candle was their only source of light in the dark and dingy building. The nuns gathered some straw and lay down to rest using two blankets they had borrowed. Once retired in these spartan conditions, Maria del Sacramento, who was overwrought with anxiety, asked Teresa: Mother, if I died suddenly, what would you do here all alone? She was so much in earnest that her terror communicated itself to me, recalled the Mother Foundress, I have always been afraid of dead bodies, even when there was someone else with me. All this time the bells were tolling without interruption for, as I have said, it was the night of All Souls, and it was only too easy for the demon to scare us by childish fancies … Fortunately, I was dropping with sleep. The Teresa said to the other nun: Sister, if that should happen, I should have to think what to do. Just now, all I want to do is to sleep … (M. Auclair, Teresa of Avila, pp. 224-225) We too can become overanxious about our worries and fears. We should do our best not to be troubled by future concerns which may be completely beyond our control. The same counsel applies to our approach to present-day difficulties. They should not rob us of our peace. Let us heed the advice of St. Teresa: If that should happen, I should have to think what to do. We can always count on God’s grace to help us on our way. Let us resolve to sanctify everything that awaits us in His loving Providence. When a life comes to an end, perhaps we may think something like a candle has gone out. But we should also see death as the time when something like a tapestry has been completed. We have watched this tapestry being made from the reverse side where the design of the artwork is blurred and the knots and twisted loops of the needlework are prominent. Our Father God contemplates the tapestry from the good side. He is pleased to behold a finished work that manifests a life-long effort to make good use of time.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Queen of All Saints, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Paul, and all the Holy Angels, may God grant us the grace to use our time wisely with the help of the Holy Spirit! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
I write from Kitui, Kenya. The first week has been ver hectic. I stayed this past weekend with a priest, Fr. Richard Ngutu, in the...
From Kitui, Kenya
October 10, 2014
Growing in our devotion to the Holy Angels
October 5, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
First, I want to thank you for your prayers while I was on a mission trip to Kitui, Kenya! I think of m...