‘Enter into the joy of your master.’ Sunday Reflections, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Woman Sewing, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands. 

(Proverbs 31:13, First Reading)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 [Shorter form, 14-15, 19-21] (New Revised  Standard Version, Anglicised CatholicEdition) 

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. [The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.] After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” [And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 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! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”]

Jesse Robredo 

(27 May 1958 – 18 August 2012) [Wikipedia]

There was real sorrow throughout the Philippines when news broke that the small plane in which Jesse Robredo, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the administration of President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines had crashed offshore while trying to make and emergency landing on Masbate Island. Secretary Robredo had been on official business in Cebu but wanted to be present at a swimming competition in which his daughter was taking part in their home town, Naga City in the heart of the Bicol Region at the southern end of Luzon. So he hired a small plane to fly from Cebu to Naga City.

Naga City, Camarines Sur [Wikipedia]

During his six terms as elected Mayor of Naga City Jesse Robredo was noted for being close to ordinary people and for working for the improvement of the lives of all Nagueños. He saw his role as one of service.

Shortly after the Secretary’s death Fr Lucio Rosaroso, a chaplain to the Philippine National Police (PNP), spoke in a homily at a Mass for the soul of Jesse Robredo of the sense of service that he had:  Service is a time-honored value, however, the span of time in service does not matter — it may be long or short. What is more important is how much love one puts into his or her service.

The late Secretary Robredo, though his service to our country was cut short due to his untimely demise, but that is not what matters. What matters most is the LOVE that he put into his service. By that he gives us the best example of servant-leadership, he stressed.

Fr Rosaroso continued: Robredo’s heart was after the heart of the Good Shepherd. He was not only a good public servant but first and foremost a father to his very own family.

I remember reading at the time of his death that Jesse Robredo, who was based in Manila during his time as Secretary of the DILG, made a point of going home each weekend to Naga City to be with his family. By air this takes about 45 minutes but by road maybe six or seven hours, as I recall from going there from Manila a number of times in the 1990s when I was a vocation director of the Columbans. It’s never easy for a politician or someone in public service to balance family life with public responsibilities. But Jesse Robredo made his wife and three daughters a priority.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia [Wikipedia]

The shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is in Naga City.

I remember reading too that the day before his death Jesse Robredo went to confession at a church run by the Divine Word Missionaries in Quezon City, the largest component in area and size in Metro Manila. Fr Rosarosa of the PNP in his homily testified to the fact the DILG Secretary confessed regularly: The late secretary used to come here in Crame Church. In fact, every week he would go to confession. We are six priests here in Camp Crame and each one of us experienced being asked by the late secretary to administer to him the Sacrament of Reconciliation from time to time. He really believed in the sanctifying graces of the sacraments. He was a practicing and devout Catholic. He was a holy man in our midst!

Jesse Robredo’s confession the day before he died is a powerful example of what St Paul speaks about in today’s Second Reading: For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night . . . But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief (1 Thess 5:1-6).

The shorter version of the Gospel has a specific focus: You have been trustworthy in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. Because President Aquino saw how well Jesse Robredo had managed Naga City he made him responsible for local government throughout the Philippines. 

The longer version shows how harshly the master dealt with the servant who simply buried what had been given to him. The investigation into the accident that killed Jesse Robredo suggests that three people lost their lives because others were not trustworthy in a few things.

The parable of the talents reminds us that whatever gifts God has given each of are not just for ourselves but are meant to be used in the service of others. What we do with them has consequences in the lives of others. Jesse Robredo, whose Catholic faith was at the centre of his life, used his talents in serving the people of Naga City from the time he was elected Mayor at the age of 29 and later in serving the people of the Philippines. He gave his wife and children first priority. The reason for his wanting to fly from Cebu to Naga, a journey that ended in his death, is a testimony to this.

The failure of some to use their talents, to carry out the responsibilities they were given, led to unnecessary deaths.

When the Lord will come like a thief in the night which words do we wish to hear from him: As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – harsh words that call us to be responsible for what God has given us – or you have been trustworthy in a few things . . . enter into the joy of your master?

Antiphona ad communionem   Communion Antiphon  Mk 11:23-24

Amen dico vobis, quidquid orantes petitis,
credite quia accepietis, et fiet vobis.

Amen, I say to you, Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it shall be given to you, says the Lord.

This is also the Communion Antiphon for Mass in the Extraordinary Form on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

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