Use it or lose it
by Michael Pirri
Every time I meet with an individual who is interested in volunteering, I start out by getting to know what they like doing in their spare time. What is it that they are passionate about, or that they enjoy doing the most? We are quite fortunate that our volunteering parishioners bring a wealth of understanding, knowledge, and expertise to their tasks here at St. Basil’s. I believe it is important that volunteers are able to deepen their faith experience through volunteer work; I know, for instance, that music is an integral part of my faith life. My work in music ministry has been, and continues to be, a lasting source of energy for my faith journey. In part, this is why I seek to find what drives others in our community – my hope for them is that they are able to experience a deepening of faith through work just as I have. Our Gospel reading allows us the opportunity to reflect on how it is we use our abilities, skills, resources, knowledge, and time; more specifically, how we use these to glorify God. “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Matthew 25. 29) I think it’s important to acknowledge that the meaning of the parable extends far beyond financial investments. We must also note that the master does not compare the five talents against the two, because each slave was able to make as much as they could considering what they had been given. God gives us all a wide variety of gifts and He expects us to be able to use them; we are tasked with refining them, no matter how big or small, to their fullest potential. I’m reminded of what I was told in French immersion school about speaking French — if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.
Proverbs 31.10-13, 16-18, 20, 26, 28-31
1 Thessalonians 5.1-6
by Fr. Morgan V. Rice, CSB
One of the most difficult things about having visits from my family and close friends is their departure. It is always so good to see them and spend quality time with them; however, after they leave, there is an emptiness that results even though I am confident that I shall see them again. Of course, that might not be the case. Life is so fragile and death so unpredictable, especially when we consider tragedies like the mass shooting at that First Baptist Church in Texas last weekend. We keep in prayer those families who lost loved ones in that act of violence. May God strengthen their faith, and in their emptiness, may God fill them with the hope that we hear about in this weekend’s second reading. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul offers the Christian community some comforting words as they grieve the loss of loved ones. He reminds them of the hope that is central to Jesus’ message, the hope that has its basis in the Resurrection of Jesus. “Through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died” (4.14). We believe that the souls of the faithful departed, the souls of those for whom we pray and remember in a special way during the month of November, are with God. We, too, have that same hope, that after we are called to our eternal home, “we will be with the Lord forever” (4.17) along with the loved ones whom we look forward to seeing again. These are definitely encouraging words! So when we experience the death of a loved one, we believe it’s only bye…for now.
1 Thessalonians 4.13-18
How God Works
by Lucinda M. Vardey
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus explains that the grace of God usually works in paradox. One of these is turning around the emphasis of external desires, positioning, privilege, and being honoured by others. Jesus’ way leads not so much to an egoless state of being (the sort of humility that takes years of purification to achieve) but to an awareness. We need to be aware of what we think or do that separates us from him.
The ego operates in a realm of self-emphasis, self-survival and self-protection. While a strong ego is never too much of a problem, the insidiousness of a fragile ego that longs for others’ applause and recognition to boost its own false sense of worth, causes havoc with our souls.
If we consider the examples of some of our great saints, especially martyrs, we begin to see what we need to do to gain an intimate relationship with Jesus beyond ourselves. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), a brilliant philosopher and Carmelite nun who lost her life at Auschwitz in 1942, leaves us some wisdom of how humility and exaltation work. In her book, Finite and Infinite Being, she writes that the human task is to “progress from self-recognition to self-formation.” She states that it is only from inhabiting our interior selves with self-reflection can “a life be properly lived.” Only by knowing ourselves in Jesus, Stein explains, can our egos be “held by something other than the external world.”
Through Jesus’ direction to his disciples to not only focus, but live, with one Father in heaven and he as our instructor, then we open ourselves to be transformed. After a while we will be able to more naturally trust that God indeed is working in us and around us, and will more fully reveal the joy and abundance that is our due when we find satisfaction in not being noticed, acknowledged and applauded.
Malachi 1.14-2.2, 8-10
1 Thessalonians 2.7-9, 13