Wednesday, 20 November 2019 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture through which we are called to reflect on what is our true calling in life as Christians, and how we should proceed in life in being obedient to God and in following His will and obeying His commandments. And today we heard two main readings, first of all from the Book of Maccabees on the persecution of a mother and her seven sons, and from the Gospel passage on the Lord’s parable of the silver talents.

In that passage from the Book of the Maccabees we are presented with the grim story of the great persecution of the faithful Jewish people by the king of the Seleucid Empire, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who wanted the entire people of his whole empire to embrace the same customs and practices, that is of the Greeks, speaking the same language, doing the same customs and worshipping the same pagan idols and gods, abandoning their old ways.

To this extent, the people were forced to abandon the ways of their ancestors, including the Jewish people, the descendants of the Israelites in Judah who were forced to abandon circumcision and to consume food that are considered unclean according to the laws of Moses. This law of the king was enforced under the pain of great suffering, torture and death. The suffering and painful death of the mother and her seven sons were one among the many sorrowful stories of those who chose to remain faithful in the Lord.

The seven brothers remained resolute, courageous and strong even in the midst of the greatest persecutions, in the real and fearsome reality of death, as they saw how one by one, they were tortured and made to suffer before being martyred for their faith. Most painful was indeed for the mother to have seen all of her seven sons to be martyred before she herself was martyred, and yet, even she remained strong in her faith despite all she had had to endure.

This can be related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard of the famous parable of the silver talents, where three servants were given different amounts of silver by their master who was about to go on a journey. In that occasion, two of the servants made good use of the silver and invested them. As a result, they gained double the original amount they received from their master by the time he returned and asked them about the silver entrusted to them.

Yet one of the servants hid the silver out of fear of his master and refused to do anything with it, and as a result, he did not gain anything from the silver that he should have made use of or invested in. The master was furious at the lazy and irresponsible servant and cast him out to be punished. And all these are reminders for each and every one of us, that just as the master truly is a representation of the Lord, our God, then we are all like the servants of that master.

For God has entrusted to us many gifts, each and every one of us having unique set of abilities, talents and powers, and also the opportunities to make use of these. God has given us all the free will to choose how we are to use these blessings that He has bestowed us with, whether we want to use them for the good purposes and for the glory of God, or to misuse them for wicked purposes or to ignore them and keep them unused and hidden.

The mother with her seven sons in our first reading today have the gift of faith, hope and love, and through the story of their courageous defence of their faith and readiness to face suffering and martyrdom, we have seen how they made good use of what God has given them, sowing the good examples and becoming inspirations for one another, that all of them could remain true to their faith and resist the temptations to give up and to sin.

Now, we do not have to follow them exactly in how they have suffered and died for their faith, and we may not have to do it in their manner as circumstances for us will likely be different, for better or for worse. Nonetheless, all of us as Christians are called to be faithful and to be committed to God, our Lord and Master just as how those seven brothers and their mother had been faithful and true to their faith.

Let us all therefore renew our faith and conviction to live our lives from now on, no longer ignoring or misusing what God has given to us, in the faith we have in us, in the talents and abilities He has given us, in the seeds of hope and love He has sown in our hearts. Let us all be true disciples of the Lord, spreading His love through our own actions, and be the bearers of His truth by our words and deeds.

May the Lord’s truth and salvation come upon many more of His beloved children through us all, His servants, to whom He has entrusted many things for the sake of His greater glory. May our every words, deeds and actions glorify God, now and forevermore. Amen.

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