16th November, 2020

Fr Mark's Homily for Sunday 15th November

Ampleforth Abbey

“Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year 1

Happiness is what in the end we all want and are seeking, it is our deepest desire.

In fact  according to Aristotle this is what all human beings want to find. Hence the Buddha, 5 centuries before Jesus, offered a way, a path of life leading his followers to Nirvana, the ultimate state of desirelessness. As disciples of Jesus, he teaches us 8 ways to happiness or blessedness in the Beatitudes. It is that blessedness which comes from walking in the ways of Lord and having that fear of the Lord, which is none other than the abiding sense of his presence.

“It is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good.” This is what we have just said in the opening prayer of this Mass.

Today we heard Jesus describe our life experience in terms of a man going on a journey and entrusting his property to his servants. He gives each of them a number of talents. The challenge lies in the stewardship of these talents by each of the servants: how they handle the talents. However what matters for each of us is their reward: enter into your master’s happiness or the joy of your Lord as another translation has it. The alternative is to end up with total and permanent frustration in life and of our life.

Talent spotting plays an important part in the entertainment industry as also in the professional world with its headhunters. For us Christians the vital thing is the recognition of the talents we have been given. We are to bring them into the light of life as St Paul just told us. We become through these very talents fully alive through our following of Christ. Like the perfect wife of the Book of Proverbs whose wholesome life radiates the goodness of God. Alternatively staying in the dark, out of fear, unwillingness to take risk, or laziness we bury our God-given talents, leaving them undeveloped.

In the reality of our lives, what in fact are these talents? I would like to suggest three of them which we all have. We have to ask ourselves in all honesty: what part does each play concretely in my life. The first is the Word of God which at this moment we are reflecting on and which comes to us each day as monks in our Lectio Divina. The second is the gift of Christ’s presence, he who lives in us and with us but also comes to us in this Eucharist. And thirdly, the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts and enables us to cry out Abba, Father. Three extraordinary talents which are ours. Do we live them?

Therese of Lisieux who found her way in life by questioning and dialoguing with God’s word has this to say: “I understood that God would reward me not according to my own works but according his own works” Andre Louf, the Cistercian spiritual writer, has commented: “God does not wait for our exploits and achievements but only that we surrender ourselves blindly to his love , accepting that with or without works, he models us into masterpieces of his grace.”

“….it is by grace, that you have been saved,…..by a gift from God: not by anything you have been done.. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he meant us to live it.” (Eph.2. 8-10 )