Tag Archives: Year A

Thirty-third Sunday: Making a profit for God

Basic theme: If we prove to God that we can be trusted with his interests in this life, indeed with this life itself, then he’ll trust us with the next life.

Our life’s work then is to use everything we’ve got in such a way that God gets the benefit.

In other words life is not about us. Not a single detail of our lives is really about us!

So, to the parable, Matthew 25:14-30

The man entrusting his property is God.

He entrusts his property to servants; we’re the servants. His property is everything we’ve got, this life we’ve been entrusted with, which is not really ours but his; to be used for God’s benefit.

He then goes abroad; that’s how many perceive God, as being abroad!

“Now a long time after” he returns to go through his accounts; “a long time after” is our length

"Now a long time after the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them"

“Now a long time after the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them”

of years, long enough to lose our way! Going through his accounts is our final judgement.

To one he’d given five talents, to another two, to a third one. Two of the three make a profit, the guy with five makes five more, the guy with two makes two more but the guy with one gives back the one.

It’s the guy who made nothing that I’m interested in; what he had was taken from him and given to the guys who’d already proved they could make a return.

This is a common theme in the teaching of Jesus.

Spiritually naive! There's no such thing as the Church dying. There's only the kingdom of God being taken from a people who've failed to produce its fruit and being given to a people who will produce something.

Spiritually naive! There’s no such thing as the Church dying. There’s only the kingdom of God being taken from a people who’ve failed to produce its fruit and being given to a people who will produce something.

Spiritually there is no such thing as the Church dying, there is only the kingdom of God (what else can the Church be about?) being taken from a people who’ve failed to produce its fruit and being given to others who will produce something.

Notice too that this is good business sense and once again Jesus is using something we all understand – good business sense – and using it to teach us about God.

Finally, notice that the guy doesn’t do anything wrong, he keeps his talent safe, afraid to trade, and gives back what he’d received but without gaining anything for God.

His offence? He fails to become God’s missionary!

What on earth do you think life is for?

Twenty-sixth Sunday: The compassion of God didn’t leave sinners where they were

God is at work because tax collectors (extortionists) and prostitutes are changing their way of life.

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus compares the people he’s speaking to – the Jewish religious leaders – to a son who says he’ll go and work in his father’s vineyard but then doesn’t go. Jesus accuses them of partaking in religion but in a way that doesn’t lead them into the kingdom of God (the kingdom of God is nothing more than God ruling your heart).

So here Jesus reveals the purpose of religion; that our hearts are ruled by God. This is the most important detail about every person’s existence; that each enters the kingdom of God.

On the other hand Jesus compares the tax collectors and prostitutes to a son who says to his father; “no, I will not go and work in your vineyard” but afterwards thinks better of it and goes, and the proof is clear for the Jewish religious leaders to see – the very public sinners were changing their lives; Zacchaeus declares to Jesus that he’ll pay back those he’s cheated four times the amount (Luke 19:8) and the woman “who had a bad name” sat weeping at his feet before kissing and anointing them with oil (Luke 7:36-38).

Jesus says this alone should have been enough to convince the Jewish leaders that God was working through him and indeed through John.

Here Jesus gives us the ultimate test to establish if God is present or not in a person’s life – “you will be able to tell them (true disciples) by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). Where God is present certain types of behaviour follow, where God is not present other types of behaviour follow. But who decides what’s in and what’s out?

The present generation has great difficulty with some of this and wants to change it – much of it a sure sign of living outside the kingdom. Changing this is the spiritual equivalent of changing the laws of physics! It’s impossible.

When a man (or woman) begins to enter Gods kingdom (remember the definition – God ruling our hearts) he discovers the reality of sin, he doesn’t need convincing, more importantly his own sin begins to bother him, and if he continues to make his way into Gods kingdom he will change and be changed. It’s actually entry into the kingdom of God that decides what’s in and what’s out. The more you enter the more the Catechism makes sense.

This is what happened to the tax collectors and prostitutes. The compassion of God didn’t leave them where they were – and it didn’t want to leave the religious leaders where they were either. Too often today people understand the compassion of God to mean the acceptance of sin!

The compassion of God is grace or graces that change us inside (interior) and as we are changed inside we are changed outside (exterior) – our behaviour changes from the inside out. It’s precisely because we’re becoming a new person that our lifestyle choices change.

The religious leaders should have known this, they should have known that wherever the kingdom of God is present, there you find repentance and conversion. That they didn’t recognize this means that they had not entered the kingdom of God themselves.

This is a problem that persists to this day – too many speak of religion and God from a position outside the kingdom of God. The result is the blind leading the blind!

Twenty-second Sunday Year A: Anyone who loses his life for my sake…

Matthew 16:21-27

Peter’s reaction is the standard human reaction, “Heaven preserve you, Lord. This (suffering and death) must not happen to you”.

Jesus uses the prophecy of his own grievous suffering and death (described as put to death) to teach his followers something that’s completely counter cultural. We just don’t think in these terms.

“… anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The use of “saving” here is interesting – it means keeping life for yourself, hoarding, accumulating, because you’re afraid to give it away, to give it to Christ.

“Saving your life” then means placing yourself and your own ‘kingdom’ at the centre of your existence which inevitably leads to materialism and consumerism. Most of us do this to some degree – herein lies the fundamental difference between the average Catholic (you and I) and someone like Padre Pio.

We do this because we want to be happy.. we’ve bought the belief that happiness is attained through consuming the material. But who told us that?

Actually, we must believe this in a society where the economy is “God” – although a false god.

The ultimate victory of this belief is to win the whole world – a point Jesus makes – but he then subverts the idea asking what good is it to win the whole world but ruin your life? He means ruin your eternal life; to possess everything the world can offer but have nowhere to go! But we don’t think like that because we’ve been conditioned to think that winning the whole world is life at its very best. But that’s not your life. Your life is your pulse!

Anyway, the inner dynamic is much the same; we give to receive…

However, Jesus is arguing that the secret to happiness is in placing not yourself and your own kingdom but rather Jesus Christ and his kingdom at the centre of your existence.

The inner dynamic remains; we give to receive which is what Jesus argues, “… anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”. The loss here is to one way of life, a worldly way of life, but in return we enter into (find) the kingdom of God, the life of God, which is so much greater.

Indeed, only when a man can see something greater (when seduced as in the First Reading) will he begin to let go of what he already has…

An after-thought:
We can use these terms to understand much about the Christian life including a vocation to the priesthood.