Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31, Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, Matthew 25:14-30

My homily at the 5:00 Mass today at Holy Ghost Church.

Audio Recording

Are we willing to take a risk for the Kingdom of God? Are we willing to move outside of our comfort zones so that we can serve God by serving our neighbors?

Today’s gospel parable about the talents is a lesson about the value of the gifts God has given each of us to accomplish his work in the world. In the parable the master gives each of his three servants a very large sum of money before leaving on a journey. A talent was equal to about 20 year’s wages, and the master expected his servants to invest it wisely. Likewise, the gifts God has given each of us have the same inordinate value. They are worth SO MUCH and we are expected to use them to serve others.

Like the master in the parable, God wants us to invest and take risks with our valuable talents, sharing them with others. He wants us to know that the more we give, the more we faithfully take risks for his sake, the more we will be given. If we generously give our gifts away in the service of others, these gifts will increase. The more we give, the more we will receive. This is the PARADOX of our faith.

The master in today’s parable was very pleased with the servants who invested the talents they were given, providing him with a bountiful return. He was not pleased with the servant who buried the talent he was given in the ground. God is not pleased with those who do nothing with the gifts he entrusts to them, because they are either afraid of failing, complacent, or just plain lazy!

Our Father in heaven is not interested in whether or not we are successful in everything we attempt to do for him. Our successes and failures are not what’s important to him. What he expects is for us to make the EFFORT to put our our gifts to work for him. The third servant in today’s gospel failed his master because he allowed his fear of making a bad investment decision to paralyze him. He didn’t even put the money in the bank to earn interest, certainly a safe bet! His failure was his fear of failure, doing NOTHING with the talents he had been given.

We are challenged today to examine how we use the gifts we have been given by God. In fact, we may even be unaware of a gift we’ve been given until we respond to an urging to step out in faith and try something new. Such was the case for me two years ago.

Many of you are familiar with the ministry Christine and I lead to our homeless neighbors. We call it the Bridge Ministry and we meet with 30-40 other volunteers once a month to bring food and companionship to about 200 people who are homeless. It all began on Christmas in 2015 when Christine insisted that we spend Christmas Day with the people who occupy the space underneath the I-40 overpass off North Broadway, just a few blocks from here. This is something she had wanted to do for several years and I always found an excuse to avoid doing it.

But this time it was different. She insisted, and I really had no option but to go along with her. If I had said “no,” I feared I would be spending Christmas eve in one of our large doghouses underneath our deck! Through Christine, God was pushing me out of my comfort zone. He was working through her to reveal to me a hidden gift he had given me … the gift of compassion for the poor and needy.

I won’t recount the entire story, as you can read all about our experience in this month’s East Tennessee Catholic magazine. (hold it up). I have some extra copies if you haven’t received one in the mail and would like a copy. I’ll even autograph it for you! (hahaha)

Seriously though, I never dreamed that God’s urging through my insistent and loving wife would result in the creation of a ministry that is now nearly two years old and growing. I never would have dreamed that this simple act of stepping out of my comfort zone on a Christmas day two years ago would have the impact it has had on both the volunteers who serve with us, as well as those whom we serve.

As a result of listening to my wife that day, I’ve now come to realize more fully the truth found in today’s first reading,

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

Christine’s faithfulness to God’s call, and my reluctant agreement to follow her into these uncharted waters, awakened talents and a heart for service that were asleep within me. So often our spouses and family members see the talents we have much more clearly than we see them ourselves. We must learn to listen to the people God puts in our lives, even when it means denying ourselves the comforts and familiarity of our established routines.

Maybe God is calling you to serve the poor too? Why not come and see by joining us this coming Saturday morning for our next Bridge Ministry at KARM? It’s takes just two hours out of your Saturday morning and we’d love to have you there with us. It just might be your opportunity to discover a gift YOU have that will lead you to the joy and happiness I experience in this ministry.

And if you don’t have the gift of serving the poor and homeless, let me urge you to ask God where he wants you to serve so as to be the face and hands of Jesus. We all have some gift we can put to work for the Kingdom.

It may be visiting the elderly in an assisted living facility or spending time with a neighbor who’s going through difficult times. Maybe it’s using your musical gifts and joining the choir? Perhaps you could get involved with the CCW because have a gift for hospitality, or maybe you’re really good at organizing events. You might decide to help the Knights of Columbus with some of their many events.

Regardless of what it is, serving God will require you to break out of your routine and be willing to take risks for the Kingdom. This is what we are ALL called to do as Christians.

Remember this: we have only one life to get it right and every day we are one day closer to the end of our life on Earth. If we keep putting off doing God’s work, we may never get around to doing it. The day will come when we are no longer able to serve due to failing health or some other reason. Then we’ll regret that we failed to answer his call to serve while we were still able to do so.

Imagine when the master returns how you will explain that you buried your talents in the ground because you were either too afraid, too lazy, or too comfortable in your private life to use them in his service. God help us if we have only used our gifts for our own advantage.

Every day is an opportunity to begin the work of the Lord once again. We must be determined to live each new day as the first day of the rest of our lives. Every day we need to begin again, to find new ways to live in the light of the Lord. Let’s not wait until it’s too late to get started.

As Paul encourages us in today’s second reading, let us conduct our lives as children of the light and children of the day. Let us not sleep as others do, but stay alert and sober as we wait for the master’s return. Let us use our gifts in service of those who need them.

When you receive the Eucharist today, ask the Lord how you can best use your gifts, and then make a sincere effort to put your plan into action. Pray about this during the week. If you truly seek to know God’s will for how you can better serve him, he will certainly reveal it to you.

Let us promise him today that we are ready to step out of our comfort zone and take risks for him. Let’s ask him to help us to put our gifts to work to help our neighbors. Starting today, let’s intentionally use the rest of our life to help bring about God’s kingdom on earth.

Don’t bury your talents! Use them to help others and you’ll be AMAZED at how they will increase.

God bless you.