Sunday Sermon for November 16, 2014, the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1Thes 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30
In the second reading today St. Paul reminds us that we are not in darkness; rather, he says, we are children of light and of the day. We live in a moment in history where even this has become difficult for some people to understand because we are now calling good evil, darkness light, and falsehood truth. People are confused.

However, for one with faith in Jesus Christ, there should be no confusion. In our Creed we profess that Jesus is Light from Light. St. John says that the light came into the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it. That light is Jesus. Our Lord Himself is the truth, as He also tells us: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Our Lord asked the rich young man “Why do you call me good? No one is good, but God alone.” Jesus is God, so He is truth, He is goodness, He is light.

It is so easy today to lose sight of these realities because with all of the chaos swirling around us, we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them onto other things. But we do not have to try to bring order into the chaos; we do not even need to try to make sense of the confusion around us. All of these things are outside of us, but God dwells within. All we need is to remain united with God and we have peace, order, truth, love, light, goodness, etc.

This becomes very important for us, not only for the sake of our own stability, but because it defines who we are as Christian persons. Why is this so important? Because in the Gospel today our Lord tells us that He has entrusted some of His wealth to us. This wealth is not monetary; it is spiritual. He has given us various gifts and talents that we are to use for His glory and for the good of others.

However, we face a couple of challenges in this regard. These are the temptations to focus on the external things of the world and either get caught up in them or to cower in fear before them. It is true that we cannot defeat the forces that surround us by our own strength, but we have to remember Who lives within us and Who has called us to this work. The Prodigal Son got caught up in the things of the world; the man in the Gospel who buried the talent the Master gave him retreated in fear and did nothing with what had been entrusted to him.

If we are united with the indwelling Trinity, we can have confidence to walk like sheep in the midst of the wolves that surround us because we know that we are not alone. When we can do this we do not get caught up in what the wolves are doing nor do we try to become like them so that they will not attack us. Rather, we are able to see clearly in the darkness because we have the light, we are able to dispel falsehood because we have the truth. Most importantly, we are able to rise above the hatred and the selfishness that have taken such a hold in the world because we have the love of God radiating in us and through us.

This brings us to the real issue at hand: the question of why we would do this in the first place. The answer is found in the first reading. On the surface it speaks of one who finds a worthy wife and it extols the wonderful things she is able to do for her husband. While these things are true, there are two points we have to keep in mind. First, marriage is a two way street. On the surface it may seem like one would marry just for what he can get out of it. Marriage is about what you put into it. This brings us to the second point which is that the motive for the service provided in a marriage is to be one of love.

It is true that both persons gain much from the relationship, but if there is selfishness or using one another the relationship will stagnate or, even worse, collapse. Because of the closeness of the marital relationship it is an apt example to speak of our relationship with God. However, our union with God is even closer than that within a marriage, but the motive and the uniting factors are the same: love. Don’t bury this talent, use it! Real love for God and neighbor is not only our dignity and our call, but it is the light in the darkness that the world needs most.

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