The Worthy Wife

11.19.17  Sun. wk 33 – O.T. – A
1st Reading  Proverbs  3: 10 – 13, 19 – 20,  30 – 31
Thessalonians  5:  1 – 6
Gospel – Matt 25: 14 – 30

Please refer to your own Bible for the Scripture readings.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                                       The Worthy Wife

We are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year.  Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this week?  In two weeks we will be celebrating the first week of Advent.  We will be anticipating the return of the Lord and then on Christmas we will celebrate His first coming.  The Scriptures today challenge us to look at our lives.  What legacy will we leave when we leave this earth?  What might people say about us when we are gone?  What good have we done that will live beyond us?  Did I make the little portion of the Lord’s Vineyard entrusted to me, fruitful in my lifetime?

In the Gospel parable of “The Talents” we discover the inheritance that the Lord has entrusted to each one of us.  What did we inherit?   We inherited our faith.   We inherited being in Communion with His Church.  We inherited His divinely inspired Word that we hear proclaimed.  We inherited the Eucharist celebrated on this altar.  We inherited His mercy, His love and His compassion.  But have we risked this generous inheritance by sharing it with others, by being generous in our witness to faith?

The two servants in the Gospel parable risked what they had received.  They risked it, but one servant was paralyzed by fear.  Now you may look upon him as really the most prudent servant of the three.  He was not about to risk the money of the master who was known to be “a demanding person, harvesting where he did not plant, and gathering where he did not scatter.” (Matt. 25:20ff)  Under these circumstances, it seems to make a lot of sense to be cautious.

Pope Francis teaches us: “†Jesus does not ask us to store His grace in a safe…He wants us to use it to benefit others…as if He were to tell us: ‘Here is my mercy, my tenderness, my forgiveness.   Take them and make ample use of them.’” (Angelus, 16 Nov. 2014)  In place of the servant’s fear of wrath, we should pray for: “Fear of the Lord.”  ‘Fear of the Lord’ is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is respect and reverence for God that will lead us to obedience and the accomplishment of His will.  That’s the meaning of “Fear of the Lord”.  It is not cowering in fear, rather it is reverence and respect for what God has given to us, and what the Lord asks of us.  This is how we become “Children of the day,”  (1 Thess. 5:4) as St. Paul writes in our second reading.  To be ‘a child of the light,’ we infect others with our faith.   We encourage others with our hope, and we serve our neighbor with love – even if our neighbor remains a stranger.

In this week’s Bulletin, I have put a copy of our annual financial report, so you can all see what our expenditures and income were over the last year.   You will notice where it says ‘net income’ the amount ($111,301) is a negative number.  No, the parish is not in debt.  No, I did not buy a condo somewhere in Coronado for my retirement.  In fact your parish staff has been very, very responsible and conscientious with the gifts you offer every week in the Offertory Collection.  But this amount, $111,301, represents money that we spent to help others – scholarships in our school for children of military families, and for families who cannot fully afford a Catholic education for their children.  Some of the money was spent as donations to help people around the world, those who are not as blessed as we have been.  The money came from our parish savings as well as generous donors.  You see, as a parish, as a Faith Community, I will not bury our talents.   I choose to follow the example in the Gospel, and to use those talents for the glory and honor of God, making a return to the Lord of Love, the Lord of Mercy, and the Lord of Compassion by helping others.

There is a parish that was devastated by the hurricane in Texas and we hope that they will soon benefit as well from our gifts and talents.  A family, here in our community of the Sacred Heart, is donating $50,000 toward the effort to help this parish rebuild after their school was destroyed in the hurricane.  In fact, all the school children in this poor community were sent to other schools because their school was so damaged they cannot attend it anymore.  With the approval of our Finance Council, our parish will add another $100,000 to that.  You know we can nickel and dime a lot of these charities and that does a little bit of good, but sometimes you need to get a significant amount in order to help people in a big way to really accomplish something; so we are committed to do that.  This will help rebuild their school damaged as a result of that hurricane.  This parish is right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and they were devastated in the storm.

By the way, if you would like to be part of that effort and increase the amount beyond $150,000, just drop a check off at the Parish Office and we will include your donation in the gift as well.

Why are we doing this?  We are doing this because we believe that we are part of the Body of Christ; and the passage from the Book of Proverbs today describes what a Church should be; a worthy Bride of Christ.  Sometimes words confuse us (as this one does) because the passage talks about being ‘a worthy wife,’ but it wasn’t meant to praise a particular woman.  It was meant to proclaim and praise the People of God, which is always expressed in the feminine tense in the Scriptures, and in the Church.  We read: “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls…She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.  She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:10-20)

The Second Vatican Council coined a term for the family: “The Domestic Church.”  As the Domestic Church, your family is a Bride of Christ.   Is your family a worthy bride of Christ?  Are you instilling the faith of your beloved, divine spouse, in others?

I love this parish!   I love your family!   I was ordained right on this spot.  My entire priesthood is grounded in all of you in this Parish Community.   And I want †Jesus to see us in this parish as a worthy bride, willing to sacrifice, willing to risk our talents out of love for our brothers and sisters who are in need, and whether those gifts are our precious time, or talent, or treasure, it doesn’t matter.

Pope Francis said: “The Lord does not give the same things to everyone in the same way.   He knows us personally and entrusts us with what is right for us…God trusts us!  God has hope in us!” (ibid)

Many of you have already shown yourselves to be so worthy of that trust from your generosity and response to National Disasters, to the support of orphanages and homes, and your generosity to our Capital Campaign as we improve our facilities for the future families of our parish.  We must not be afraid to risk the talent, the treasure, or the time, given to us by the Father, because the Lord trusts us.  He trusts us: “To love others as †Jesus loved us – sacrificially;” and the Lord will never be outdone in generosity or kindness, we know that.

For those who respond to God’s trust in them, we can trust in this promise from the Book of Proverbs: “The bride who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.”  (Proverbs 31:30-31).

     In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.