"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
November 13, 2011: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
• Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Synopsis: According to ancient tradition, Proverbs was attributed to King Solomon (see 1 Kgs 4:32; Prov 1:1; 10:1; 25:1). A collection of short, pithy sayings, Proverbs contains practical advice about how to live in a way that’s pleasing to God. The literary structure of the last chapter, describing the ideal wife (first reading) is noticeably different from the rest of the book. She embodies all the virtues described previously, chief among which are prudence, charity and religious devotion. The reading was chosen because in a larger sense she represents the model disciple or, as in this week’s Gospel, the trustworthy servant who handles his master’s wealth wisely.
In the second reading Paul reminds the Christians in Thessalonica that they are “not in darkness.” As “children of the light” they are called to be alert, sober and watchful. They, like the good wife in the first reading, are to be wise and prudent as they await “the day of the Lord.” The 25th chapter of Matthew contains three parables about the last judgment. The first parable was about the wise and foolish virgins.
This week’s Gospel is about three servants who were entrusted with their master’s wealth. If we take the last parable in the series as our guide—the parable of the sheep and goats—we see that the “talents” entrusted to the servants (like the oil in the parable about the virgins) symbolize charity—the one thing that increases the more it is given away.
Key Verse: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them” (Mt 25:14)
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: ‘Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it’” (No. 1889).
Pope Benedict XVI: “The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church’s life, but also of her mission: an authentically eucharistic Church is a missionary Church” (Sacrament of Charity, 84).
Life application: We are custodians of charity. In the Eucharist, the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Rom 5:5). The divine life which we receive in the sacraments is not something we can keep to ourselves or bury away. We have to share it, otherwise it’ll shrivel up and die. The Lord has blessed us with so many beautiful things, all of which are meant glorify Him. But the most precious thing of all God has entrusted to us is himself. And one day we will have to give an account.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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