Sunday, November 16, 2014

Growing in Faith

Reflections on the Readings
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ninteenth Sunday After Pentecost
November 16, 2014 - Year A

Growing in Faith

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, "You wicked and lazy slave!"

Today's Gospel comes from chapter 25 of Matthew packed with forty-six verses of Jesus speaking of the need for a robust and vibrant faith. We hear today from a portion of that chapter called the Parable of the Talents. A talent equaled about 15 years of wages. Three servants are given responsibility to keep things going while their master goes away for a 'long time.' To each one, according to his ability, is apportioned the amount of talent the master believes that person can be trusted with.

The challenge given to us today in the readings is one of being faithful. To grow in faith and in the knowledge of our Savior is the consistent invitation given to us. Being sluggish and lackluster is not the sign of a vibrant and effective witness to Christ. The challenge for 21st century disciples of Jesus is the same as it was for 1st century followers of Christ. And that is to be the 'aroma of Christ' everywhere. Going into the whole world of the human experience where Christ's love is needed. If we don't share from the treasures of Christ's life in us then who will know that there is a God of love?

To each one of us is given gifts with which we are to make Christ known. So many do not know the depth, the width, the breadth, the height of the love of God revealed in Jesus our Savior. Letting our light shine is a message Jesus gave his first followers. It is our assignment too. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and give glory to God."

Growing in our understanding of the measure of faith given to each one of us is how we grow closer to the world Jesus came to save. Being spiritually minded brings us closer not only the Christ but to the lost. 

We had/have our favorite subjects in school. Some do not like math while others bounce off the wall enjoying calculus. But have you heard of Biblical math? St. Peter taught it. It goes like this: For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." Supplement, that is, add to your faith. Grow in grace. Don't hide your light under a bushel but let it out so that the whole world will know and see the light of Christ. Be alive in your life in Christ. Pay attention to it until Christ forms and shapes and inspires the very depth of our being. For just as a city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor should a Christian infused with the Holy Spirit be hard to notice.

St. Paul speaking about generosity of giving is also applicable to what we are hearing in today's readings: For the point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…You will be enriched in every way for great generosity. Generosity is the hallmark of the follower of Christ. Because of the surpassing grace of God in us we are compelled to make Christ front and center. Unless we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can become timid and fearful to even speak of him. 

Let us ask for more. More of Christ's love. To be filled with more of the Holy Spirit. To be able to bring more of the life of the kingdom of heaven to everyone we meet. Let us live with a joyous and energetic faith that imbues all that we do so that when Christ comes again we can go out to meet him with joy!

Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at:

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