November 19, 2017: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern. To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force. “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods. Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope of a better future”. (182) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Second Reading: 1st Thessalonians 5:2-6
Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. (1022)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
In his preaching, Jesus teaches that we should appreciate work. He himself, having “become like us in all things, devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter’s bench” in the workshop of Joseph (cf. Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3), to whom he was obedient (cf. Lk 2:51). Jesus condemns the behaviour of the useless servant, who hides his talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30) and praises the faithful and prudent servant whom the Master finds hard at work at the duties entrusted to him (cf. Mt 24:46). He describes his own mission as that of working: “My Father is working still, and I am working” (Jn 5:17), and his disciples as workers in the harvest of the Lord, which is the evangelization of humanity (cf. Mt 9:37-38). For these workers, the general principle according to which “the labourer deserves his wages” (Lk 10:7) applies. They are therefore authorized to remain in the houses in which they have been welcomed, eating and drinking what is offered to them (cf. Lk 10:7). (259)
In the light of Revelation, economic activity is to be considered and undertaken as a grateful response to the vocation which God holds out for each person. Man is placed in the garden to till and keep it, making use of it within well specified limits (cf. Gen 2:16-17) with a commitment to perfecting it (cf. Gen 1:26-30, 2:15-16; Wis 9:2-3). Bearing witness to the grandeur and goodness of the Creator, he walks towards the fullness of freedom to which God calls him. Good administration of the gifts received, and of material goods also, is a work of justice towards oneself and towards others. What has been received should be used properly, preserved and increased, as suggested by the parable of the talents (cf. Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:12-27).
Economic activity and material progress must be placed at the service of man and society. If people dedicate themselves to these with the faith, hope and love of Christ’s disciples, even the economy and progress can be transformed into places of salvation and sanctification. In these areas too it is possible to express a love and a solidarity that are more than human, and to contribute to the growth of a new humanity that anticipates the world to come. Jesus sums up all of revelation in calling the believer to become rich before God (cf. Lk 12:21). The economy too is useful to this end, when its function as an instrument for the overall growth of man and society, of the human quality of life, is not betrayed. (326)
Servants amassing wealth, to please the master of idolatry, placated the system of greed beyond need and placed self-interest and affirmation of cultural mores rooted in the primacy of possessions over solidarity to provide for the basic needs of all. The servant with the least realized the system’s injustice. A systemic paradigm valuing reaping what one did not labor in planting. An exploitation of people that labored to plant but never received due reward for their work. The meager, base amount the purported lesser servant had taken from him ended up increasing the wealth of the most affluent, void of knowing the work of loving hands, never reaching out hands to the poor in humility to compassionately listen to their challenges and needs.
The parable states talents were given according to ability. A framework to perpetuate the status quo of inequality, where the people with talents keep gathering more to shut doors of opportunity to others striving for even a meager subsistence. Divine compassion measures the response to the most poor and vulnerable as the benchmark for social and economic relationships, not the biggest store room of goods. The person with the most talents IMMEDIATELY went and traded them. An action of desiring more wealth instead of sharing talents with those possessing less talents to enhance their lives. The person with the one talent responded admirably by not being complicit with injustice and returning the talent only to be berated with derogatory labels of lazy, wicked as character attacks. Furthering the injustice was giving of the one, solitary talent to the one with the most talents to further widen societal disparity. Ultimately, the purported master defines the lowly servant as useless and expels the scapegoat of society into darkness. This final act void of mercy to bring even the lowest in society’s eyes into the light of human dignity. As we celebrate the first World Day of the Poor today, as proclaimed by Pope Francis, may we realize the imperative to lift up the lowly, see the earth’s resources are equitably distributed, now and for future generations, human needs of the marginalized are met and all in the family of God are welcomed, realizing the interconnectedness needed to attain Gospel justice instead of economic superiority as a benchmark for credibility and status.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 24:14-30
Read Pope Francis’ declaration for World Day of the Poor and reflect how you will live this message in your life: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20170613_messaggio-i-giornatamondiale-poveri-2017.html
Family Reflection: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Reflecting on how your parish honored the World Day of the Poor, how can you help your community more effectively reach out hands and arms in justice to the most poor and vulnerable in the neighborhood?
Blogs to Visit:
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Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
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How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born November 9, 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.