JOKES OF THE WEEK

(1) How to stay safe without taking risk: 1.  Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents. 2.  Do not stay home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home. 3.  Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians. 4.  Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water because 16% of all accidents     involve these forms of transportation. 5.  Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in Hospitals.  So, above     all else, avoid hospitals.     But you will be pleased to learn, only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in Church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.  Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at Church! And Bible study is safe too.  The percentage of deaths during Bible study is even smaller.  So for SAFETY’S sake: Attend Church, and read your Bible.  IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!

(2) Have you heard the old parachute joke about the guy who was having trouble trusting? His friend said, “I know the best solution for your problem. A parachute jump will fix your problem of trust and lack of confidence.” So, they took this guy up for a jump. But just before he was to jump he got very nervous. His friend assured him, “It’s very easy. You jump out, and then pull the rip cord. If for some reason it doesn’t work, you pull the second cord, which is a back-up – guaranteed absolutely to work! Trust me! Then you just enjoy your trip down and a car will be waiting for you and will drive you back to the airport.” So, the guy jumped out of the plane. He pulled the rip cord and nothing happened. “Oh, no!” he thought. “I’ll pull the back-up cord.” He did. Nothing happened. And the guy said to himself, “Oh, no! And I bet the car won’t be there either”

BONUS: Sunday Connections & Illustrations
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Archive from previous weeks.

HOMILYILLUSTRATIONSMESSAGESCOMMENTARY

Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily

November 15, 2020

Fr. Tony’s Homily (everything on one page)

Introduction

This penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us, not only of the end of the liturgical year, but also of the end of all things and of the preparations we need to make to reach Heaven. The main theme of the three readings is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!… Come and share the joy of your master” Matthew 25: 21.

Opening Illustration(s)

Select one or two of the following illustrations to insert here. View more by clicking on the “ILLUSTRATIONS” tab above. Feel free to insert more throughout the homily if so desired (but this should not be overdone).
Illustration — Option A

The man who did not bury his talent

Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy, in 1644. Because Antonio’s voice was high and squeaky, he did not pass the audition for the Cremona Boys’ Choir. When he took violin lessons, the neighbors persuaded his parents to make him stop. Yet Antonio still wanted to make music. His friends made fun of him because his only talent was wood-carving.

When Antonio was 22, he became an apprentice to a well-known violinmaker, Nicholas Amati. Under his master’s training Antonio’s knack for carving grew, and his hobby became his craft. He started his own violin shop when he was 36. He worked patiently and faithfully. By the time he died at 93, he had built over 1,500 violins, each one bearing a label that read, “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno……” (“Antonio Stradivarius of Cremona made in the year…”) They are the most sought-after violins in the world and sell for more than $100,000 each. Antonio couldn’t sing, or play, or preach, or teach, but he used the ability he had, and his violins are still making beautiful music today.

Antonio is a challenge to people who have only a single talent and who try to bury the talent for fear of failure — like the lazy servant in Jesus’ parable

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Illustration — Option B

Chance-taking adventurous voyagers

Columbus trusted his maps and calculations, considered his risks and sailed off to India – only to encounter the “new world.” Magellan based his charts and maps on the most current information then available, and boldly circumnavigated the globe. A few centuries later in their search for a Northwest Passage, Lewis and Clark set off, crossed the entire North American continent and explored the nation.

All these explorers had at least one thing in common. They all based their momentous journeys on maps that were mostly inaccurate, hopelessly flawed or vastly mistaken. Yet each of these adventurers went ahead, accepted the risks, plunged into unknown territories, mapped them, and changed the world. It is precisely because of their risk-taking that the face of the planet was re-drawn and the dreams of future generations were re-shaped. Those without the vision, without the courage to take risks, are quick to label others as crazy, crackpots, fools, and failures.

In the parable of the talents this week, Jesus gives a stern warning — discipleship does not promise complete safety. On the contrary, true disciples are called to take risks and venture beyond the known and the secure.

Illustration — Option C

Playing it safe

There is an old story about two farmers visiting over a fence in early Spring. “Jake,” the first one said, “What are you going to plant this year, corn?” “Nope,” Jake replied, “scared of the corn borer.” “Well, what about potatoes?” his neighbor asked. “Nope, too much danger of potato bugs,” announced Jake. The neighbor pressed on, “Well, then, what are you going to plant?” Jake answered, “Nothing! I’m going to play it safe.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of a lazy servant, like Jake, who buried his talent instead of doing business with it.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Scripture Lessons Summarized

Fr. Tony’s unabridged edition for this section can be found by clicking on the “COMMENTARY” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

The first reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal and faithful wife, in the use of our God-given gifts and talents with “the fear of the Lord.” Unlike the one-talent man, she takes her gifts and “brings forth good, not evil”; she “reaches her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy,” and she is a portrait of responsible readiness.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, Ps 128, the Psalmist echoes the concept of the blessedness of the faithful servant of the Lord. The Psalm affirms that the fear of the Lord is the key to human happiness and joy.

In the second reading, Paul advises us as “children of the Light” to “stay alert and sober,” living in such a way that we will be ready when Jesus does come, and will encourage and build each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.”

Today’s Gospel asks us if we are using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God and doing everything, we can to carry out God’s will. The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

Life Messages

Fr. Tony’s unabridged versions can be found by clicking on the “LIFE MESSAGES” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given. We may be especially talented in teaching children or cooking meals or repairing homes or programming computers. So, we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society.

2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in various ministries of our parish, such as Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, Lector, Usher, Sunday school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer and member of one or more parish organizations and community outreach programs.

3) We need to “trade” with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it. We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out. The way to preserve the Faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and help it bear fruit.

Fr. Tony’s Illustrations

November 15, 2020

Click here for more of Fr. Tony’s illustrations

Booker T. Washington used his talents

Booker T. Washington started life as a black American slave. At the age of sixteen, he walked almost five hundred miles from his slave home to Hampton Institute in Virginia. When he got there, he was told that classes were already filled. But that didn’t stop him.

He took a job at the school doing menial work: sweeping floors, making beds, and doing anything they wanted, just so he could be around the environment of learning. He did these jobs so well that the faculty found room for him as a student. He worked his way up at the school, became a famous teacher, the first black faculty member at Hampton Institute.

He became a writer and the author of Up From Slavery. He was a popular public speaker. And he eventually founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he brought George Washington Carver to teach and do all his research which changed and improved farming techniques.

Booker T. Washington used his God-given talents, and we all gained from them.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Buried talent

Niccolò Paganini (1782 –1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin vituosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His Caprice No. 24 in A minor, Op. 1, is among the best known of his compositions, and has served as an inspiration for many prominent composers.

But he willed his violin to the city of his birth, Geno, Italy, with the condition that the violin never again be played. What a pity! The absence of use and handling resulted in the decay of the wood used in the instrument. A violin that is constantly used can be preserved and in some cases even grow richer in tone for hundreds of years, Paginini’s wish just resulted in the crumbling of his precious violin in its case

(E- Priest) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

“If only I had her looks”

Phyllis Diller “Kitchen & Fridge” on The Ed Sullivan Show on Nov. 27, 1960.

There is a story of the thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman who would go to the movies and sigh, “If only I had her looks.” She would listen to a singer and moan, “If only I had her voice.” Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She began to turn her liabilities into assets.

When she was at the top of her career, Phyllis Diller made over $1 million a year. In the 1960’s that was a great deal of money. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh. Well, maybe God is saying something like that to us through today’s parable of the talents.

Maybe when we complain that we wish that we had more, if only we were like someone other than ourselves, if only… He says to us: “Use the gifts I have given you!” Stop crying about what you do not have and start concentrating on what you do have. Use the gifts that God has given you.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Do you like the house?

Wallace Hamilton in his book What About Tomorrow? tells the story of a wealthy builder. He called in his top assistant manager and said, “I am going away for a while. While I am gone, I want you to oversee the building of my home. I am going to be retiring in a few years, I have these wonderful plans, and excellent parcels of land by the lake, and I want you to oversee the building of our home.”

As he left on his journey, the assistant said to himself, “He lives in luxury and has done very little for me. When he retires, what will I have?” So the assistant used every opportunity to feather his own nest. He hired an immoral builder, he used inferior products, he hired inferior workmen and when the house was completed, it looked fine on the outside, but its deficiencies in workmanship and material would soon show as the test of time came. It was not a job “well done.”

When the wealthy builder came back, he said, “Do you like the house?”

“Yes, I do,” the assistant manager replied.

The wealthy builder then asked, “Is this house beautiful?”

“It certainly is,” said the assistant.

“Great,” said the wealthy man, “because it is my gift to you. The house is yours.”

Each of us lives in the house we are building each day. Where are you in this story tonight?

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

America’s Got Talent

“America’s Got Talent” is one of a dozen or more copy-cat “spin-offs” from the grand-daddy original “discover-unknown-talent” show “American Idol,” a franchise we copied from Great Britain’s “Pop Idol” franchise. This genre of television that includes “The Voice,” “X-Factor” and “America’s Got Talent,” focus on finding that rare pearl of stardom embedded amidst the grit and gravel of everyday gifts.

Ferreting out someone’s ability to excel at something, identifying an individual’s unique “talent,” has its roots in this week’s Gospel text. In fact, you might call our text the original “talent contest.”

In the first century a “talent” was actually a measure of weight for gold, silver and copper. We do know it was not a specific value of currency or wealth. We do not know exactly what the weight was that a “talent” measured. We do know it was recognized as the largest weight in normal everyday use. One “talent,” then, was a considerable amount, especially when it expressed the weight of such valuable commodities as gold and silver and copper.

In this week’s Gospel parable these weighty “talents” are distributed by a Master to his some of his slave-servants in varying amounts.

(http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Life Messages

November 15, 2020

We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities he gave us

Some of us are, clearly, very gifted with valuable abilities, but there is no one, absolutely no one, who can say he has been gifted with nothing. We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers. So we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society. Why not follow the example of people who use their God-given talents the best way possible, like, for instance, nursing assistants who take great pride in keeping their patients clean and comfortable, or carpenters who gain enormous satisfaction from building quality homes, or teachers who find joy in the discoveries of the classroom, or attorneys who keep the goal of justice at the very center of their practices?

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

We need to make use of our talents in our parish

God calls us to live in a world of abundance by taking risks and being generous. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and innovative educational events in the Sunday school. We can fulfill the needs we will find right in our parish: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or the elderly, housing the homeless, and welcoming strangers in our midst. We need to make the bold assumption that there’s going to be a demand for every one of our talents in our parish community. We should step out, with confidence, believing that every God-given gift we have is going to be exceedingly useful and fruitful!

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

We need to “trade” with our talent of Christian Faith

All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent. We have received the gift of Faith. Our responsibility as men and women of Faith is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith. We need to work with it. We need to offer it to the men and women of our times. Unless we do this, we stand in danger of losing the Faith just as the third servant lost his talent. The way to preserve the Faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and help it bear fruit.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Fr. Tony’s Commentary

November 15, 2020

Introduction

This penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us, not only of the end of the liturgical year but also of the end of all things and of the preparations we need to make to reach Heaven. The main theme of the three readings is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come and share the joy of your master” Matthew 25:21). The first reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal and faithful wife in the use of our God-given gifts, used with “the fear of [respect for] the Lord.” In today’s Responsorial Psalm, Ps 128, the Psalmist echoes the concept of the blessedness of the faithful servant of the Lord. The Psalm affirms that the fear of the Lord is the key to human happiness and joy. In the second reading, Paul advises us to “stay alert and sober,” encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to ask the questions: “Am I using my talents and gifts primarily to serve God? Am I doing everything I can to carry out God’s will?” The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

First Reading

The Book of Proverbs is the best place to find practical advice about life. This first reading describes a good and faithful woman –- a gracious wife and mother — who does all her household duties with generous efficiency, finding time to reach out a helping hand to the poor and the needy. Unlike the “wicked, lazy servant” in the Gospel, this faithful and loving wife works diligently to bring good to others and is judged praiseworthy for increasing the quality of life within and around her. Since she practices love for both God and neighbor it has pleased God to say: “Her value is far beyond pearls” (v 10). This reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal, faithful wife in the use of our God-given gifts. Unlike the one-talent man, she receives her gifts from God and uses them to “brings forth good, not evil”(v 12); she “reaches her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy” (v 20). The author of Proverbs believes everyone should be creatively and lovingly active. Writing against a cultural background which stressed the exploits of men, the Sacred Author sees the “worthy wife” (v 10), as a dynamic, ingenious individual. Hence, the ideal Old Testament woman is no empty-headed sex object but a model held up for imitation by women and for respect and honor by their husbands., fathers, and sons.

Second Reading

When the Thessalonians first accepted the Christian Faith, they thought that their imitation of Jesus’ death and Resurrection would be a short-term experience. Everyone, including Paul, was certain that Jesus’ Second Coming was very near. As time went on without that Coming, the Thessalonian Church seethed with rumors about its exact date. People were more concerned with “times and seasons” of Christ’s second coming than with living their Faith. Paul assures his readers that it’s stupid to worry about the “day of the Lord(v 2). Instead of expecting an imminent Parousia, Christians should always “stay alert and sober,” (v 6), doing their daily duties faithfully. “We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore, let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” (vv 5-6). Paul means that our wholehearted dedication to the responsibilities of Christian living will earn for us the Lord’s praise at the Final Judgment. Paul reminds us that the children of light are destined, not for wrath, but for salvation when the Lord comes. He warns us that the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” (v 4), when we least expect it.  Thus, we should keep awake and be sober, encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.” Only those who live each day to the fullest will be ready when Jesus’ special Day arrives.

Gospel

Context: The parable is set in the last of Jesus’ five great discourses — this one   focusing on Jesus’ eschatological teaching. The three parables in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew (The Wise and Foolish Virgins, The Talents, The Last Judgment) are about the end times, the end of the world, and the end (intent, purpose, and upshot), of our lives. Matthew’s account provided good advice to the early Christian community as to how they were to behave in the period following Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension while they awaited His imminent second coming. Whatever had been given to them — money, talent, opportunity — was meant to bear fruit for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The same is true for all of us. Perhaps, Jesus was condemning the Jewish religious authorities. They were like the third servant, so carefully bent on preserving in its purity the tradition with which they had been entrusted that they lost their openness for Christian community the parable was allegorized. The Master was equated with Christ, his departure with the Ascension, and his delayed return with the delay of the Parousia or the “second coming.”

The story: A very rich Master,about to set off on a journey, entrusted very large sums of money (talents) to three of his servant-slaves, each according to his personal ability:  five, two, and one. A talent was worth between five and six thousand denarii — or about 15 years’ wages for a simple day laborer.  Even one talent could be worth more than a laborer would earn in a lifetime.

The rich Master freely bestowed the money upon all three servant-slaves as a fiduciary entrustment, with the responsibility of investing it. He was giving each of the servant-slaves a chance for unsupervised action. The amounts were enormous to these slaves who, of themselves, had nothing and earned nothing.

  • Through skillful trading and investing, the slave with the five talents, trusting in the righteousness of his Master, managed to make five more — doubling his Master’s money.
  • The servant-slave with the two talents did the same.
  • The third slave, however, buried his talent in the ground.  He did not trust in the Master’s loving Righteousness and so was afraid to take the risk, afraid of the consequences of losing all the money, and afraid of the Master’s reaction if he did.

On the day of accounting, the Master rewarded the two clever and trusting servant-slaves (“Come, share your master’s joy” vv 21, 23), but punished the third untrusting slave whom he called “wicked and slothful” (v. 26). He took the third servant-slave’s talent and gave it to the first servant-slave. Clearly the Master did not want security — but initiative. He exposed the third slave’s explanation as a mere excuse for irresponsibility and laziness. Even the most timid person could at least have invested the one talent with bankers and gained the interest from it, the master pointed out (v 27).

The four lessons taught by Jesus through the parable:

  1. God gives each person different gifts for his or her intended uses. Everything is gift, and everything is meant to be given back to the Master in in the form of loving service to Him in our brothers and sisters. We are only asked to make full use of what we have been uniquely given and to use our talents for the benefit of the community as a whole. The human family is charged with preserving the beauty, diversity and integrity of nature as well as fostering its productivity.
  2. The better our work the greater our responsibility. God gives more responsibilities to those who make the best use of their God-given talents.
  3. The lazy and the unproductive will be punished. Even the person with only one talent has something to offer to others. If he fails to do some positive good work, he will lose what he has. If he trusts the Lord, and so tries to use well the gifts God has given him, but fails, he will meet the Master’s compassion and forgiveness.
  4. God blesses generous sharers and punishes selfish hoarders. Those who share generously the gifts they have been given are likely to find themselves constantly and immeasurably enriched, while those who jealously and selfishly preserve, out of fear, what they have been given, will lose it. In short, the parable outlines the result of the abundant, grace-filled stewardship of God’s resources. A person who does not refuse a gift from the Lord, receives it, and consequently has more. The trustworthiness of the profitable servants ensures their share in the “joy of the Lord,” because the wealth of life and talent given them has been invested to bear fruit in labors of faith, hope, and charity.

The allegorical interpretation of the parable. This parable has certain allegorical elements with some passages clearly involving allegory.

  • The Master going on a journey represents Jesus. His going on a journey represents Jesus’ Ascension.
  • The slaves represent Christians who are awaiting the Second Coming.
  • The talents represent the blessings (financial, social, intellectual, athletic, musical, and so on), which God has bestowed on each of us.
  • The Master’s return represents Jesus’ Second Coming. The Master’s assessment of the faithfulness of the slaves represents Jesus’ judgment of us at our own death, and on Judgment Day.

Using these allegorical elements, this parable tells us that God will hold us accountable for what we have done—and for what we have failed to do — with His gifts, and opportunities He has given to us so that we may use them well. In the parable, Jesus is portraying God as a rich Master Who has entrusted His entire property (i.e. the world) to His servant-slaves (i.e. us), with the assumption that we will be responsible, prudent and thoughtful stewards of these riches, until the day when we are called to give an account of our stewardship. It is a reminder that we are accountable to God for the ways in which we have used (or abused), the gifts He has left in our care, so that we may use them to produce as much fruit as is possible. We are to keep in mind always, that the gifts and their fruits are not ours but God’s, and that God will one day demand a reckoning of all we have done with them. Our reward will be in proportion to the degree to which we have used our gifts to their fullest advantage by taking the risks involved in investing those riches wisely.(Adapted from the New American Bible notes)

The challenge given by the parable: Take the risk for Christ. Let us remember that we are not called simply to “believe” that Jesus is Lord and Savior Instead, we are also called to carry on Jesus’ mission of love and forgiveness, using the physical and spiritual gifts we have received from God to make that happen. God, Who risked everything in the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son as Jesus, the Christ, for the sake of our salvation, expects us to do more than simply cling to safety. Here, Jesus is encouraging us who follow Him not to be afraid but, trusting in His help, to accept the risks involved with using their talents for the glory of God and for the salvation of our neighbors.

Overwhelmed by the fear of being eternally condemned to Hell, many of us identify ourselves with the servant-slave who quickly buried the talent he received from his Master. Our concern with our eternal salvation can be so intense that we concentrate only on the possibility of loss and become afraid to risk extending love to others in our spiritual life. We presume that forming relationships is always risky, and showing love to another might mean having to change our actions to meet the needs of that other. There’s always a danger we might “do the wrong thing” and lose the grace we have. The parable teaches us that a “take-no-chances” policy is not Christian.

The object lesson: Our lame excuses invite punishment: The third servant decided to avoid risk-taking and showed too much caution with his talent.. His excuse was that, after all, he had not been given explicit orders about how to do his investing. Besides, any type of business was risky, and the Master might hold him accountable for any loss. He probably knew the long-standing rabbinic teaching that anyone who buries money that has been put into his care is no longer liable for its safety. Through this description of a lazy servant, Jesus teaches us that that there is no “safe” position in life. Christian living is strenuous business involving occasional risk-taking. God expects us to use our every talent for personal growth, and for bearing witness to the Goodness of God to all whom we encounter.

As Pope St. John XXIII said,

“We were not put on earth to guard a museum, but to produce new spiritual wealth from the talents God has placed under our stewardship. Traditionalists who fear the gift of the Second Vatican Council and a changing Church, and want to keep their treasure intact through a return to outdated rituals and arcane theology, are represented by the lazy servant. “While the parable of the wise and foolish virgins shows that ‘good intentions are not enough,’ and the last judgment story reminds us to care for the poor and needy, this parable of the talents describes the “terrible punishments which lie in store for those who do not produce new wealth from the talents God has placed in their stewardship.”

(Letter by the Lay Commission on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, 1984, p. 4).
Permission granted for the use of the materials on this page for education and homiletical purposes at no charge. If used in writing, please make acknowledgment of the author, Fr. Anthony Kadavil.. For more information, contact Fr. Tony using thecontact form.