Sunday Sermon for November 13, 2011, the Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Prov 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1Th 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

In the second reading St. Paul tells us that we are children of light and children of the day. We are not in the darkness, so we are to be alert and sober, not sleeping like so many others. We live in a society were there are tragically millions of people who are living in darkness and are spiritually asleep. Their moral lives are in shambles and they are busy trying to convince themselves that they are happy.

There are so many ways that the darkness is manifested, but in the context of today’s readings we have to ask ourselves if there are any parts of our own lives that are in the darkness. The Gospel reading tells us about the various talents that God has given to us. It is evident that He intends that we will use these talents for our own good, for the good of others, but especially for His glory. Are we doing that?

All too often we hide our talents because of fear; this is particularly true when it comes to doing things for the Lord. Perhaps we are afraid that we will be rejected by others, perhaps we are embarrassed, perhaps we are afraid that we will fail, or perhaps we are afraid of God knowing that serving Him usually means that hardships await. Regardless of the reason, we are like the man in the Gospel who buried his talent and, eventually, had it taken away from him. To put it into common parlance: use it or lose it!

One of the basic talents that the Lord has given to each of us as children of the light is to know the truth. Once again, we sometimes do not want the truth because it is inconvenient to us, because it would require us to make some changes in our lives or because embracing the truth makes us different from those around us. While all of these things may be true, we have to remember that our Lord told us that the truth will set us free.

One of the truths that is so often disregarded has to do with the dignity of the human person. The first reading speaks of the blessedness of the man who has a really good wife. In a society like ours we often lose sight of the dignity of our own spouse. We tend to take the spouse for granted, we fall into patterns of selfishness and we quit trying to make the love within the marriage grow. Even more foundational to the problem, for both men and women, is the failure to recognize and uphold the dignity of women.

Most women do not believe in their inherent dignity nor in their equality as persons with men. God created us equal as persons. We must be careful because in our society equality is seen in mathematical terms implying that equality means the same. It does not. We have to be grateful to God for the manifold differences between men and women and the unequal abilities that He has given us. However, being different or being unequal in talents or abilities does not mean that we are unequal as persons. The equality and the dignity between men and women are radically equal.

If women buy the lies that they are not equal to men and that equality means sameness, then women will try to become like men in order to be equal. This is exactly what has been happening for a generation now, and it is a total violation of God’s truth and of the dignity of women. In fact, since this whole movement for equality began, I do not know if there has ever been a time when women have been treated so unequally.

While it is easy to say that women have to recognize and accept their own dignity, maybe that dignity will only be recognized when men begin treating women with the dignity that is theirs. Looking at a woman as an object violates that dignity. Talking down to women violates that dignity. Treating women as though they are less violates that dignity.

Men are to protect the dignity of women, but if we do not see or believe in that dignity, how can we defend it? We are children of the light and we have the fullness of the truth available to us. What good is all of the theoretical knowledge if we cannot accept basic, foundational truths about ourselves. Being children of the light, we need to pray to be enlightened, to know and embrace the truth about God and about His human creatures. The world is in darkness but the light came into the world and the darkness could not overcome it. You are in that light, live as children of the light!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit