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    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

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Spiritual readings for Sunday 19th November

13 November 2017 CGI news

Spiritual readings for Sunday 19th November

Week of 13th November (reference: readings for Sunday 19th November)

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: 1Ts 5,1-6; Mt 25,14-30

"Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober"

Vincentian Reflection

The Parable of the talents (from the Gospel of this week) has a lot to do with our Vincentian life. Jesus invites us to check the talents that we have, to know how to use them and to multiply them.

Firstly, what could be our talents? We can define talents as everything good that we possess and that was given by God (this is also the fruit of God’s goodness). It is true that virtues such as faith, hope and charity are talents given to us by God and that make a difference in our lives and in the lives of the people that God entrusts to us. Embodying these talents makes us close to God and allows us to be "always vigilant" in order to prepare for his coming, or for the time in which we will see him face to face in our death.

However, there are other talents that God gives us and that we often prefer to "bury": our intelligence, our beauty, our material goods, our ability to speak, to write, to act. How many times God showed us that we have all those and yet, we prefer to believe that we are worse than others are, or we complain about the fact that others have more than we do! Wouldn’t it be much better for us and for others to work to the limit, or to maximize what we have? We prefer a more comfortable position of a 'poor' rather than assume our talents and move forward, building things, performing good deeds, spreading the Gospel. God has not given us the world so that we receive it and move on through life without improving it; He created us to be like Him, in his image, to build as He built, to create as He created, and we can do that, without distinction of persons.

God gave to every one of us a set of different and useful talents to build the history of salvation. There is no single person on earth that does not have a mission and a value to add to God’s work. If it were so, His creation would not be perfect and we would not be created in his image. It is up to us to identify these talents and put them to service.

In the Letter to the Thessalonians of this week, Paul asks us "not to sleep, as others do, but to watch and be sober" (vs. 6). First, we should not sleep, but always be attentive and willing to cooperate in the work of creation and salvation. Secondly, we should do that being sober, i.e. with wisdom. It is not only about 'what' to do, but 'how' to do: all decisions, actions and judgments we make, must be in accordance with the will of God (with the talents that He gave us by Grace).

Jesus gives us an indication about the 'how' to do it in the first two servants of the Gospel: the two risked their talents and worked hard to return them double. They could have slept on their talents, but they preferred to take risks; and since they were risking, they had faith that He would give them the competence to return the double. If everything went wrong, they knew that the Lord was going to forgive them, because it is not the result that counts but the intention of doing the best.

Where might the Vincentians be if St. Vincent had not risked creating the Congregation of the Mission, or the Daughters of Charity, or the Ladies of Charity? What would we be if Frederic Ozanam had decided to stay in the Conferences of History and had not decided to set up the Conferences of Charity? What would be his mission of spreading the Gospel, if he had not risked creating the Journal ‘L'Ère Nouvelle’, or if he had not taken the risks of being a candidate to the Parliament, or if had not written letters defending the Church and Justice?

Nothing of what we do for God’s work or what we risk for the Poor remains without Him noticing it. God will always be there, within us, guiding our steps, providing talents and comforting us if something is not right when we risk doing better.