33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A - November 19, 2017

Loans and Extortion

We live in a world based upon the flow of money. Businesses and individuals borrow money to buy commodities. The business that sold the commodity made money, and so did their suppliers, and so on. This flow of money helps the economy grow.

What happens when the percentage of the loan is too high? Imagine repaying a loan at twenty five or thirty five percent interest. Or fifty percent interest. The loaner becomes the loan shark, the extortionist. Businessmen in the time of Jesus loaned at such rates. Below the parable of the talents lay the reality of extortion. Jesus told the story of three extortionists to shock his audience and make them reconsider their notions of God’s Kingdom.

Sunday Studies:

FIRST READING The book of Proverbs presented its idea of the perfect wife: a faith-filled servant of her husband. While our culture might reject this image, we must look beyond our notions to see what was admirable in the image. Faithfulness.

PSALM Psalm 128 described the blessed man, an industrious person of faith surrounded by a family of faith. Hard work and fidelity to God were the ingredients of a happy life.

SECOND READING In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul advised his audience to be ready for the coming of the Lord. His arrival will be sudden. We should not take the calm of the moment as a reason to be lax in our lives as Christians.

GOSPEL The parable of the talents in Matthew’s gospel presented three servants who “invested” their employer’s money. Westerners seem to readily accept the parable, but the contemporaries of Jesus were shocked by the images. Jesus used the figures of loan sharks to describe the missionary efforts of his ministry and his followers. How could this be? He preached on the Kingdom, a reality that was vastly different from anything we can imagine.

Other Resources:

DAILY READINGS Readings for the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time.

CHILDREN’S READINGS In the discussion for the first reading, we realize moms are the smartest people in the world. In the story for the gospel, no matter what Mark did, he could not please his soccer coach. Mark learned that some people are never happy, but that is not the case for God.

CATECHISM LINK In this week’s Catechism Link, we investigate free will and conscience.

FAMILY ACTIVITY The parable of the talents really addressed the subject of trust. The rich man trusted his servants to earn him more money. One servant did not trust the rich man, so he hid the money until he could return it; this man did not believe in himself. Trust means believing in others and in ourselves.