Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Engaging Faith | Fri, Nov 14, 2008

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

 November 16, 2008


Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21


November 16: International Day for Tolerance

November 16: Anniversary of the deaths of the 6 Jesuits and 2 women at the University of Central America in 1989


Parishioners are called to use their talents, the resources of our faith, and the opportunities of this democracy to shape a society more respectful of the life, dignity, and rights of the human person

US Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light

Holiness is not limited to the sanctuary or to moments of private prayer; it is a call to direct our whole heart and life toward God and according to God's plan for this world. For the laity holiness is achieved in the midst of the world, in family, in community, in friendships, in work, in leisure, in citizenship. Through their competency and by their activity, lay men and women have the vocation to bring the fight of the Gospel to economic affairs, "so that the world may be filled with the Spirit of Christ and may more effectively attain its destiny in justice, in love, and in peace.

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #332

"Hence, as Leo XIII so wisely taught in Rerum Novarum: "whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and corporeal, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's Providence, for the benefit of others.'He that hath a talent,' says St. Gregory the Great, 'let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility thereof with his neighbor."

John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 119

Thoughts for your consideration

The scriptures today challenge us and our world to get our values in order, to focus on those things that are really important, and to take risks trusting in the generous power which God has been given to us.

The first reading from Proverbs offers the image of a wife who is judged to have her values in order. She cares for her family.  She cares for others.  She cares for the poor. It is possible to misuse this first reading from Proverbs and use it to envision a world where the role of women is limited to "domestic work in the home."  This is not the proper way to use this scripture when we apply it to our situations and world today. This scripture is reminding us that the value of a human person is found not in superficial standards of beauty or charm or fashion or glamour, but in the quality of our life, the loving character of our relationships, and the concern we show to others.  "She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy." 

The gospel story reminds us of the possibilities that can unfold as God's gifts are used well.  God has given us things which we must use well.  We must not be paralyzed by fear, but we must trust that as we make our efforts great things can happen. In the parable those who invest what they have been given all have success.  The one who is paralyzed by fear is the one who fails.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  Experts tell us that today we produce enough food for everyone to eat well.  A just distribution is the challenge. God invites us to a responsible sharing of the abundance and a renewal of structures that will give everyone a just opportunity to share in the riches of the world.  Abundance and fruitfulness are possible.  Good things are possible.  Hunger and injustice can come to an end.   We need to use well what we have been given by God.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  We can deplete those resources, pollute the environment, and keep producing green house gases that change the climate. God invites us to something different.  God invites us to use our gifts in a responsible way and for the common good so that all groups of people can enjoy the rewards of responsible development. Abundance and fruitfulness are possible.  Good things are possible.  We can live well using sustainable practices.  Everyone and all nations can share in development. Injustice can come to an end.   We need to use well what we have been given by God.

Chocked by wealth and anxiety, we can close ourselves to the reality of the poor and marginalized of our world.  Chocked by worry about our own needs, we can continue to misuse our gifts and earth's resources. Chocked by the structures and institutions of our world, we can feel paralyzed.  The scripture today reminds us that something more is possible.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you been paralyzed by fear and failed to get things done or to address serious needs?  When have you taken risks and accomplished some surprising thing?


How do the results of the recent US election affect your sense of hope for justice?  What are you worried about?  What are you hopeful about?

Actions - Links

November 16 is the International Day for Tolerance. For some info about teaching tolerance, go to Teaching Tolerance, a Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center at

On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  For info about the efforts to remember those killed and to bring an end of the SOA, go to .  Next weekend thousands will gather in Columbus, Georgia for the annual remembrance and protest.

"Crazy Facts"

The US Department of Labor reports that in October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose by 249,000 to 2.3 million.  The long-term unemployed accounted for 22.3 percent of total unemployment.

The CIA factbook reports that in Haiti "....more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs (2002 est.)"

Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, guide us on the road to justice and peace.

For all workers, for those working in the home and those who work outside the home, we pray.....

For all those who cannot find jobs and those who have lost their jobs, we pray....

For all those in our military, especially those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, we pray....

For all the people caught up in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we pray.....

For an end to all war and for a just peace in all the places of our world, we pray....

For our planet earth that we may work together to heal the harm we have done, we pray....

For the development of our planet, that we may develop our gifts in a sustainable way, we pray....

For our political leaders, especially those recently elected, that they may guide us in what is right and good for all, we pray....

Prayer - Meditation

A PEACE PSALM based on chapter thirty-one of the Tao Te Ching
from Edward Hays (Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)

O Prince of Peace,

whose active presence we seek in our lives,

come this day and show us

how to beat our swords into plowshares,

tools of life instead of instruments of fear.

May your love strip us naked

of all weapons and strategies of conquest,

which are not the tools of lovers,

wise ones and God's children.

Let us not lust for power

but rather strive for the insight

to be guided on the Way of Peace.

Let us not yearn for a victory

that requires a sister's sorrow

or a brother's shamefaced defeat.

With tears, black suits and dresses

and tolling funeral bells,

let us attend life's victory parties

that are won at such a cost.

Let us be peacemakers,

hammering swords into shovels,

filling holes and leveling peaks.

for only through such open hands and hearts

can The Peacemaker come.


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