Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 19, 2017
In my ministry in the inner-city parish where I’m pastor, I’m often overwhelmed by the seemingly unsolvable problems we face. How to tackle poverty, unemployment, crime? How to get practical help to folks? How to bring together those with resources and those with needs? How to deal with daily frustrations?
In this tough ministry, one of my Franciscan colleagues has a very helpful strategy for me and our parish community. He says there’s two ways to do this ministry. One is a way that stresses people’s needs. This “need-based” approach can often lead to frustration as we face those overwhelming problems. A second way is an “asset-based” approach. Everyone has a gift. Every person has a unique dignity given by God. Everyone is an “asset” in our community. The poorest person economically may have a talent or gift not immediately apparent. In this approach, we’re all in relationship, and in that relationship, love and service can flow two ways.
Maybe that’s part of what Jesus wants to teach us in today’s parable of the talents. We’ve all been given gifts by God. In the parable, praise goes to those who develop those gifts; hoarding them or burying them—even for security’s sake—is not an option. In our faith communities we’re challenged to find ways to discover the gifts each person has, and to discover how to put them at the service of the Kingdom.