The kingdom has already begun
Sunday Homily for November 16, 2008
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (33A)
By Father Cusick
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the peace of Christ be with you!
In our Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verses fourteen to thirty, we have a lesson on the kingdom of God, and the judgment that will come with the end of all things. A man going on a journey prepares for it by giving to one of his servants five thousand silver pieces, to another two thousand, and to a third one thousand.
One of the servants responded to his gift by burying it. He was punished. The servants who put their gifts to use and bore fruit were rewarded with greater gifts. If we are to receive the greatest gift of grace in the kingdom, it must begin for us right here and now as we seek the kingdom by putting ourselves and our talents to work for God and others.
We are the servants of God, and are responsible to God for the way we use the abilities he has given us. How we use our abilities to enrich and help others is our fulfillment of Christ's command to love others as we love ourselves. On the natural level, God equips each one of us with unique talents, abilities, and aptitudes. No one person will ever be exactly like another or have the ability to excel in every discipline. All the plastic surgery, diets, workout programs, steroids or makeup in the world cannot change this fact.
Happiness lies not in changing our physical appearance to be like someone else; it lies in fully realizing our God-given identity of talents and gifts through a virtuous and generous life. Recognizing and accepting God's plan for each of us is essential for our happiness. C.S. Lewis wisely wrote, in The Problem of Pain, "When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy."
"On coming into the world, man is not equipped with everything he needs for developing his bodily and spiritual life. He needs others. Differences appear tied to age, physical abilities, commerce, and the distribution of wealth. The 'talents' are not distributed equally." (CCC 1936)
Note that when the Catechism acknowledges that every single human being is "needy", the first solution to this need is "others" and not "things." The most effective way that every human being will satisfy his or her needs in this life is, by God's plan, through the other members of the human community. True wealth, riches and gifts are found first of all in other human beings, not in the material things or monetary wealth they can bring us
The myth of "overpopulation" is accepted as truth by many today. The steady barrage of media reports on the latest aspects of this burgeoning "crisis" only serve as nails in the coffins of the children yet to be born, the handicapped and the sick or debilitated elderly. An authentic demographic recognizes that there is no overpopulation problem.
Mother Teresa once said, "Saying there are too many babies is like saying there are too many flowers." The only people we have too many of in the world today are people who think there are too many people. There is enough land, water and food for everyone. It is the selfishness of man and his lust for money or power that prevent the just distribution of the world's wealth among mankind.
The answer to man's material needs has been provided by the Creator. What is needed now is cooperation with the Creator's wisdom to ensure that the "universal destination of goods" comes about.
"These differences belong to God's plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular 'talents' share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures:
'I distribute the virtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some to others...I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, a living faith to that one...And so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another...I have willed that one should need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me.' " (St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogues) (CCC 1937)
The kingdom is brought about not only at that moment when we answer to God for our use of the talents he has given us, either selfishly or generously. The kingdom has already begun among those who share the good things of this world, their talents and energies, generously for the betterment of their fellow men and women. "Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant. Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come, share your master's joy!"
Let's pray for each other until, again next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy."