Deacon Raymond’s Reflection

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A

November 19, 2017

           Banquet. I’m still pondering on the last sentence of my last week’s reflection. After three long ‘feast-drought’ years, my wife finally got a chance to feast for the last two weeks: home-made seafood cuisine, welcome home banquet, wine tasting banquet and wedding banquet. She was blessed to spend time in Hong Kong with family and friends whom she hasn’t seen for a long time. Hong kong is 15 hours ahead of us. In spite of busy schedule, she sacrificed her sleep and got up at 5:00 am their time (3:00 pm ours) to FaceTime with me to express her love and make sure I am OK.

           As for me, after a long three years eating (swallowing) and speaking drought, I finally had an appointment with the ENT (ears, neck, and throat) specialist and surgeon at U of A Hospital two weeks ago to talk about the chance of trach tube removal. After a detail examination, the answer is no. My vocal chord is not functioning well due to the stroke and any operation to widen the airway based on the current technology will increase the risk of aspiration and pneumonia. So, there goes my hope, even the last talent is taken away from me.   Maybe I am not following the commandments as expected in my life in the past, not using the gifts from God wisely. Because of my pride (I like to do things my way), I fail to recognize that even a small talent is a gift from God. Our sins are like the trust-breakers. They show we aren’t ready for God’s greatest gifts, so we have to start with the small things. Each grace we respond to opens the door to receiving another grace. If we are trustworthy in very small matters, we can be trusted with the greater.   Part of earning trust with God is getting our priorities straight. Taking a God-and-mammon approach to life is similar to saying the rosary while watching television. It erodes our commitment to the Lord, showing God that we are not spiritually mature enough to be fully trusted. God must come first! I believe keeping the trach tube now is God’s test for me, to test my trustworthy. It’s his way not mine. Few years from now, who knows …….

           This Sunday’s gospel story is pretty simple (Matthew 25:14-30). A wealthy man gave his fortune to each of his three servants to care for while he went on a trip. When he returned, the owner saw that two of the three servants invested his money and got back twice the amount. He delighted in their trustworthiness. So they were entrusted with more. The third servant, the poor soul did not invest the money at all. He buried it in the ground. Quite simply, he was afraid of investing and losing it. This poor guy just wanted to keep the owner’s money safe!

           Now assuming that the parable is about God. Maybe God entrusts even more to us. We are given life, talents, love, people around us with unconditional love. God gives all these free of charge. He gives us our lives with all the rewards and disappointments and catastrophes and he says to us, dive in! Make whatever you will of it! You are beloved to me! This is truly wonderful. But then an awful question arises. Does God curse those who are afraid and who bury what they are given? Jesus at least seems to say yes: “To everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”. That hurts. How are we to interpret these words? Well, in the realm of spirituality there is only one thing that can completely go away if you only have a small bit of it and do not use it. But it gets greater if you have it and use it. Love. If we love those around us, even just a little bit, that love peaks and grows. But if we slam the door against love out of fear or for whatever reason, not just at God, but at ourselves and neighbours too, then we will be in the darkness outside, wailing and gnashing teeth.

           Could the Good Lord accuse us in misusing his gifts, using them unwisely, extravagantly? What about all the graces that God has given to us: our faith, the sacraments, the scriptures, the example of the saints, the time we have been offered, the talents we have been given? How can we respond better to the many gifts Our Lord has given us? How can we better “invest” our talents for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven? I am scared of mis-investments.  We are all frightened. It is not so unusual. God waits for ages to see if we will accept just a tiny bit of the forgiving love he offers through the unconditional love from our love ones and neighbours and by the sacrifice of His son. And to see if we will even find just enough courage to invest some of that love in other people. It is a big risk he takes, and he may say, “Oh no, not again” when we fail. This is not a harsh reaction. It is just a disappointment of someone who loves us very much.   However, knowing our God is a God of abundant love, I think he will most likely say, “It’s OK, try again. I love you always.” So, let love in. The merciful Lord is there waiting to walk with us and talk with us, and tell us we are His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. He speaks and the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing. (Anne Murray, In the garden)