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Homily of Bishop Denis from Mass on KCLR Radio, Sunday 15 November 2020

Thirty Third Sunday of the Year – Year A:                                         15.11.20

9.30am – KCLR Studio’s, Kilkenny


As another Church year grinds to a halt, just one Sunday left, we are introduced to yet another parable. This time about servants, about talents, about trust. The Greek word for talent suggests it was a measure of weight, roughly 75 pounds of silver. Burying a talent was therefore serious work. The discomfort of the third servant maybe is a lot closer to us than we might care to think! I think we all have a sneaking regard for this third lad. He read the small print. He knew his master too well.

But in reading the small print, the third servant let’s an opportunity slip. An opportunity to be fruitful, not to waste; to invest, not to bury; to use for the good, not to keep for selfish reasons. As we gather to pray this Sunday morning, once again here in KCLR studios, a Sunday which Pope Francis in recent years designates as the ‘World Day of the Poor’ – a recognition that there are too many living in poverty, all the moreso in the context of this COVID pandemic. In the poverty of our sin, in the brokeness of our promises, in the moments where trust has been damaged we pray for His love and mercy …


The rock group ‘Queen’ had a song called: ‘We are the Champions’. Often you hear versions of the Freddy Mercury hit blasted across loudspeakers as a team win a much-coveted trophy. Perhaps Kilkenny sang a few verses after last evenings Leinster Final win over Galway! The parables over recent weeks offer us the broad parameters of Jesus’ teaching.

This morning’s on talents suggests in the eyes of Jesus it is not important whether we are champions, whether we’re in the middle of the field or whether we are left on the benches; what is important is that we use what we have well, each to his own ability! I loved that phrase I used often after a school exam: “I did my best!” In our parable it doesn’t matter that the man with five made five more or the one with two made two more; what matters is that they bore fruit, they blossomed, they did their best. That’s all God wants for any of us. I am not you and you are not me!

Returning to the third servant with that single talent. Don’t miss the gospel verse tucked in there, “each in proportion to his ability[1]. The man with the one talent is not by any means bad – he didn’t waste; he wasn’t disobedient or even rebellious. Did he commit a sin? The only sin was what might be called: “a sin of omission”, doing nothing as against sins of commission where we intentionally set out to do something wrong in word, in action, in deed.

In our life, if we have a skill or capacity, we need to use it or it becomes weaker and weaker. “Use it or lose it” is a slogan we can all relate to! We all have abundance. It sometimes only when there is a family death that drawers full of jewellery are found, cabinets full of linen, fridge freezers full of meat, sometimes the deceased ‘did without’ in order to save something for ‘the rainy day!’ Somehow that rainy day never arrives, it slips past. And just as we have products and commodities stored away, think how many skills or abilities in every community, in every parish, in every diocese are left untouched, unused, unexplored! Maybe this mornings message can be summarised: ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it!’

World Day for the Poor invites us to position the poor at the heart of the parish list of priorities. And there isn’t a parish, a family, a person who hasn’t found these COVID days a struggle. Many themselves have come face to face with poverty. Our face coverings, our masks, our visors can inadvertedly lead to us towards looking inward, like the third servant of the gospel. We may find ourselves exercised that our church buildings are closed to public worship, but fail to see that our Christian calling isn’t confined by bricks or mortar, by open doors or closed doors. The Eucharist is the summit but also the source of our Christian calling.

The creativity of a parish, the resilence of a person, the ingenuity of a community allows the poor, the broken, the wounded to be at the heart of the lived gospel. And all the moreso in these challenging COVID times. Next Sunday we continue with Matthew 25, one of the verses next week resonates also this morning: “when you neglected to do it to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me[2]. It is not by accident that the entire chapter of Matthew is read over these three Sundays – last Sunday, today and next Sunday – the entire chapter is a reflection that reminds us the real champions, the real heroes, the real talent is within all our grasps.

[1] Mt. 25:16

[2] Mt. 25:45