Saturday, 28 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to remember our calling and mission in life as Christians, as those whom God has called to be His followers, that is to be active in our participation of the living of our faith that we do not just live our lives without meaning and faith, and we have to make good use of the gifts and talents that God has given to each and every one of us.

That is what was elaborated and symbolised by the Lord in the famous parable of the talents in our Gospel passage today, as we heard the Lord Jesus and His teaching to His disciples, making use of that parable of the talents to remind them to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord and to do whatever they can in their capabilities and opportunities to be the bearers of our faith in God. We should be active in our lives and in showing our devotion to God, and not merely just paying lip service to Him.

This parable of the talents highlighted the action of three servants who had been entrusted with different amount of silver talents by their master, talent being the unit used to measure weights at that time, which is why this parable is often known as the parable of the talents. One servant was given one talent of silver, while another was given two silver talents, and the other one five silver talents. Those talents represent the gifts and abilities, the opportunities the Lord has given to us, just as the master represents the Lord Himself.

And as we have heard from the passage and the parable within, the servants treated the entrusted talents differently, as those two who were entrusted with two and five talents respectively invested and made good use of what had been given to them, and when the master came back, those servants were able to present the master not only with the silver back, but even with double returns. Meanwhile, the servant who was entrusted with the one silver talent hid his talent and did not do anything with it, as he said that he was afraid of his master and his exacting nature, and thus, hid the talent.

This showed that he did not trust his master at all, and had no desire to do as he was supposed to do, or to obey his master’s will, and more concerned with his own self-preservation and selfish desires. This is why he refused to do anything with the talent, and we already heard what happened next then, as those who did good with their entrusted silver talents received even more from their master, while the lazy and untrustworthy servant was punished for his actions and also lack of action in making use of the talents entrusted to him.

What is its significance to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a reminder to us all that each and every one of us are expected to make good use of the talents, gifts, abilities and opportunities that God has given to all of us. We may think that we have nothing special or have little ability to contribute anything, but this is often where we are wrong. Even in the smallest things we do, we can make a great difference. And just like the case of that servant given just one silver talent, it does not mean that if one is given less, then one cannot make good use of what he or she has been given.

On the contrary, all of us are always encouraged to contribute whatever we can, even in the smallest things, that in doing our best for the Lord, we may grow and bear many fruits of our faith in the Lord. The Lord has given us what we need, and now it is up to us to pick ourselves up and begin to do what we can do to follow the Lord and to commit ourselves to His cause, and in doing His will, in our communities and in wherever we have been called to serve and do our part as respective members of the Church.

Today, all of us should also be inspired by the great examples set by St. Augustine of Hippo, the great saint and Doctor of the Church, one of the four original Doctors and revered as one of the most important fathers of Western Christianity, for his many contributions to the Church, and his various writings, of which especially well known being the City of God and the De Trinitatis, the writing on the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, among many others that he had done, as well as in his many contributions to the local and Universal Church.

However, St. Augustine did not always begin with such a wonderful and faithful life. Instead, as we may recall from yesterday’s celebration of the feast of St. Monica, who was St. Augustine’s own mother, we may remember how St. Augustine used to lead a debauched lifestyle and sought worldly pleasures and ambitions, following heresies especially Manichaeanism, and in his many philosophical and worldly pursuits in his youth, before finally, through the unceasing prayers of his mother, and through God’s grace, he turned back towards the Lord and gave himself completely to Him, to His cause and for His greater glory.

St. Augustine dedicated himself henceforth as a most faithful servant of God, making best use of his energy and all of his talents, his abilities in inspiring numerous others to be faithful to the Lord. And he dedicated himself to the very end, doing whatever he could to serve the Lord and His people, both in Hippo, his diocese and especially throughout Western part of Christendom at the time. His many writings and contributions to the Church remained very influential, and many theologians and philosophers of the Church drew inspiration from St. Augustine, his life and his works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen how St. Augustine dedicated himself to the Lord and turned away from a life of idleness and sin, and into righteousness and fruitfulness in the Lord. Through his efforts, many great things had happened, many people had been touched and called to follow the Lord, and this is just yet another example of what it means for us to invest in our ‘talents’, that it may grow and provide us with great returns, not in material things but rather in our spiritual growth and closeness to God.

May the Lord continue to guide us and inspire us in our journey of faith through life, and may He strengthen each and everyone of us that we may always persevere in faith from now on. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

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