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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | How do we invest Jesus’ gift of Himself?

The readings for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time reflect the over-abundance of God's love for us. We're inundated with His goodness, and all He asks of us is to receive it in gratitude and invest these gifts in His kingdom.

The first reading describes a wife and mother who is an entrepreneur. God's gifts and talents surround her, and she invests them in her family and neighbors. She isn't the self-pitying victim of others' thoughtlessness, but celebrates the talents and gifts loaned to her by God. Her deepest fulfillment is in receiving and passing along to others God's gifts to herself. Even the poor find in her God's love for them. Her participation in godliness is her supreme joy. Her motto might be: "I am not the source of any goodness you see in me, but the joyful sharer of God's overwhelming love for us all."

In the second reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians — and us — that we're "children of the light and children of the day. ... Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober."

We all have received the gift of faith — Trinitarian life flowing through us, which someday will be turned into eternal glory, if only we walk in the light and live the Gospel.

It's so easy to slip into darkness and lose our connectivity to God. The darkness sometimes appears attractive, inviting and easy, but it's so deceptive. When we give in, we trade joy, peace and union with God for pleasures that darken our behavior and discourage us.

We stay in the light when we pray, repent, faithfully attend Holy Mass every Sunday, and live the Gospel as we have received it. This keeps us walking in the light, filled with peace and joy.

The Gospel reading oozes with God's overabundant love and goodness for us. Consider the man going on a journey is Jesus, investing Himself in us until His return. He knows each of His servants and their abilities, and He entrusts His possessions to them according to each person's ability.

Immediately after He leaves, two servants invest the gifts He had given them. However, the third "went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money."

The two appreciative servants enjoyed investing the talents their master had given them. They found their fulfillment in carrying out the trust the master placed in them. When the master returned, the servants were filled with gratitude and joy at master's trust.

The third didn't trust the master and in fear buried the one talent he had been given. Because fear of the master paralyzed him, he rendered the master's generosity useless.

This is taking place right now and will continue until Christ's final return at the end of the world. Then He will ask us to give an accounting of how well we have invested His gift of eternal life in us.

Like the servants who invested the talents given them by the master, do we believe that God over-abundantly shares Himself with us? Do I really believe that He has more mercy than I have sins? Do I really believe that He grieves more over my sinfulness than I do? Do I really believe that God has a better image of me than I do?

When I am really overcome by my own sinfulness, do I really believe that He longs to forgive me if only I turn to Him in sorrow, or am I afraid of Him and afraid of His punishments, so much so that I want to cease thinking of Him? Is that why perhaps I have stopped going to church on Sunday? Is it that I don't want to be reminded that someday He will return to settle accounts? Do these fears paralyze me and keep me from surrendering my whole heart to Him and take the chance of being totally cleansed by His merciful love and forgiveness?

Might this be the chance that I take and believe that eternal salvation is still within my reach, if only I believe in a merciful Savior who longs for an eternal friendship with me?

Even though the above might not describe your present state, it probably describes someone you know very well. Might Jesus be inviting you to share your faith and trust in Jesus with an individual who feels lost, abandoned and hopeless?

If this is the case — and it probably is — then first take this person to prayer, which will warm your heart for him or her with Christ's compassionate love. When this happens, you will find yourself reaching out to this person with unexpected words of kindness and compassion. The person you take to prayer may instantly recognize that you reaching out to him or her is Christ Himself reaching out to them.

In reaching out in love and companionship, you will immediately recognize that it isn't you who does this, but Jesus Himself who has put this in your heart because He wants you to participate for all eternity in this person's joyous return to Jesus and the Father.

Have you ever thought that the Gospel speaks so directly and personally to your heart? Remember, at the Last Supper, after He washed the feet of His disciples, He told them that they will be happy when they do these things. 

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