HOMILY: 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME ( YEAR A )
THEME: “Jesus said, ‘To all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’” (Matthew 25:29)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
STORY 1: “The kindergarten teacher was helping one of her students get his boots on before leaving the classroom to get on the school bus. She tugged and he pushed, and after she had worked up a sweat, both boots were on the boy’s feet. The boy looked down and said, ‘Teacher, these are on the wrong feet!’ She looked down, and sure enough, they were. Getting the boots off wasn’t any easier than getting them on, but she managed to keep her cool as she squeezed the boots on the right feet. Once they were on, the little boy announced, ‘These aren’t my boots.’ The teacher bit her tongue as she took the boots back off. Once off, the little boy continued, ‘These are my brother’s boots. My mom made me wear them.’ The teacher didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she mustered the grace and courage to wrestle the boots onto his feet again. When she was finished, she asked, ‘Now where are your mittens?’ The little boy said, ‘I stuffed them into the toes of my boots.’” (Original source unknown)
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STORY 2: Mattie, a college-age ward clerk, worked weekends in the hospital’s ER, and while I looked forward to her smiling face and cheery personality, she’d not been at work for quite a while until she reappeared one weekend. “Mattie, I’ve missed you,” I said. “Where have you been?” Though her smile remained, a sad cast came to her eyes. “Oh, it’s my mom. She’s been sick. She’s had seasonal affective disorder for a long time, and it’s been really bad this year. We had to put her in the hospital. Every year, just when summer ends and fall begins, Mom sinks into these awful depressions and sometimes even has paranoia. She hears voices and sees things that aren’t there. The worst part is, they have medication for the disorder, but she refuses to take it. So she ended up in the hospital for a while.” There was no sign of Mattie’s usual smile; clearly, it was suffering I now saw. She continued, “Mom’s home now, but she needs someone with her all the time. There’s just Dad and me, but with school and work I feel so bad that I can’t give him more help. Besides that, it’s so scary seeing my mom like this. It’s taking every bit of courage just to be with her the few hours that I can. I wish I could do more.”
Two stories, two desperate young women: a kindergarten teacher pushed to the wall by a little boy and his boots; a hospital employee pushed to the wall by her mother’s mental illness. Two young women who feel they have so little when so much is required. Surely, though, this is more than their story; it’s also our story. Who hasn’t felt the frustration of that kindergarten teacher? Who hasn’t felt the helplessness of that hospital employee? Indeed, how often we feel short-changed when the task before us seems so great and our abilities so inadequate.
The gospel passage we hear today addresses this very unsettling human condition. By way of parable, Jesus teaches his disciples that, though abilities and talents will surely differ from one person to another, what one does with what one’s given is the important thing. As the parable insists, no one is expected to do more than is humanly possible; however, everyone is expected to make some positive difference with the abilities and talents given.
We are all called upon to build the Kingdom of God on earth. From those who have been given much, much will be expected. From those who have been given less, less will be expected. But God has expectations of everyone! No one is excused from the task of making the world better. The parable concludes with a curse upon those who do excuse themselves, those who make no attempt to build the kingdom: “Jesus said, ‘To all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’” (Matthew 25:29)
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