Humanity’s Got Talent!

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

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 obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, "Peace and security, " then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one-- to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.' Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, 'Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.' Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.' His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For 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. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

“A capable wife, who can find her? … She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10, 12). Is the author promoting the image of a subservient female serving her husband “all the days of her life”?!? Equally perplexing is the Gospel reading where Matthew recounts a parable of Jesus that seems to suggest that the rich will become richer and the poor will become poorer!

At first glance, this week’s readings seem to be perpetuating deep-rooted social injustices against women and the poor. There’s no doubt that these passages are shocking but aren’t most things that came out of Jesus’ mouth equally thought-provoking, if not more? When we put on the lens of Jesus’ teachings about love, service, and the Kingdom of God, we are empowered to understand these narratives more thoroughly. The “capable wife” in Proverbs can be interpreted as the Church and her husband, Jesus. In fact, this passage sheds light on the mission of the Church. Central to the Catholic social teaching is the preferential option for the poor. The canon law states that “The Christian faithful are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor”. Hence, the “capable wife”, or followers of Christ, “opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:20). Pope Benedict XVI affirms the centrality of social justice in “Caritas in Veritate”:

If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity, and intrinsic to it. […] To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity…. The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them.
(Caritas in Veritate n.6 as quoted in “Catholic Social Teaching on Poverty, an Option for the Poor, and the Common Good”, USCCB.org)

Indeed, by virtue of our baptismal dignity, we have been anointed to “bring good news to the poor” and sent to “proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-20).

What God has gifted each one of us is sufficient to fulfill our mission as Catholic Christians in the service of our fellow sisters and brothers. Whether we receive one, two, or five “talents”, we are called to bear fruits. Whatever talents we may have, we are reminded to use them in serving others. What if I only receive “one talent”? In truth, God can even use our perceived weaknesses to build a community of faith, hope, and love. It is through such diversity and openness that we may support each other along the journey as companions in faith. Jean Vanier reminds us that “one of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing” (Community and Growth). When the Church, meaning all of us, contribute to the greater good, we build a more hopeful and beautiful world in which everyone may “enter the joy of [our] Master” (Mt 25:23).

Posted: November 19, 2017

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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