Is Your Life “Aligned?” Homily: 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time
What was the issue with the “lazy servant” in today’s Gospel reading? The Homily Pack from ePriest gives us some insights.
First of all, the parable is not about hard, mean bosses getting rich. God, (“the master”) was angry because of the servant’s lack of love for his neighbor. The Lord gives us gifts and talents. God’s expects us to use them to “enrich” people around us. If there is chaos in the local school a family, the church, an organization – people are getting angry and frustrated, and you have the “talents” of “administrate” and envisioning, God is calling you to put those gifts at the service of others, improve the situation and enrich their lives. If you sit on your gifts, that provokes God’s ire.
Second, some people have a false sense of God. “The Master.” Some look around and see others who seem to have more money, more gifts, more talent, more opportunities. God knows you because he created you and thus also knows what you can handle – and what you can’t. He provides exactly the right assignment for your talent bucket. Others are more fearful of God. They’re afraid that they’ll do something wrong or people will criticize them or that they’ fail or that the assignment will be too hard. God is not to be feared like a slave owner. Jesus is not a harsh and unjust master. He asks nothing of us that he hasn’t done and knows we can’t handle. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read that, “God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability, but when he tests you, he will also bring about the outcome that you are able to bear it.”
The ultimate issue with the lazy servant was that his understanding of God, neighbor and ultimately himself was not “aligned.” Emily Madill is a mom, author and certified professional coach with a BA in Business and Psychology. She provides three questions that we can ask to help us better align ourselves with a correct understanding about ourselves, God and others.
1 – Who Am I? This is the first – and a most important – question. It actually is addressed in the first five questions of the good, old Baltimore Catechism. Must be important then. So how do we answer that question? Start naming your many roles – I am a mom or dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, teacher, etc. Add profession, career, education. Consider hobbies, talents, things we like to do, things we do well. But this still isn’t who you are. We need to look underneath the question – to get to the heart of it. Madill calls this “naming your essence.“ It is the answer to the questions – “Who am I? Why did God make me? Why did God make me this way?”
When are you getting close to knowing that you have the answer? By the feeling you receive when you are deeply connected to your truth. It might feel like love, or peace or joy or contentment or excitement – whatever word feels right to you. You’ll know. You’ll be able to point to it and say, “That! That’s who I am.”
2 – How do I want to feel? If we don’t know how we want to feel, we become hyper-focused that we don’t feel great and why we don’t feel great. This is how Satan can distract us and take us away from moving to a place where we know the truth about ourselves, what we are to do and thus experience the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (peace, joy, love, patience etc…) that God wants us to have. So ask yourself: “How do I want to feel?” Continue inquiring with questions like, “What makes me happy? What do I want (THAT one is a biggie!)? What essence do I want more of in my life?”
3 – Am I in alignment? Does who I am and how I want to feel – mirror how I’m being, and what I’m doing, now? If the answer is yes, then talk to God about that. Go deeper. See what other insights He gives you. If the answer is no, what is off? Think of your true essence. Think of your desired feelings. How well are they in sync with your interactions with people around you and the roles you perform? Where do changes need to be made? Emile Zola was a French novelist, playwright, journalist who was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902. He was once quoted as saying, If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” We honor God by following through with what we know is true about us. This is how God made you. We need to align our essence – who God made us – who we really are – with what we do. Only with this type of alignment will we realize a sense of happiness and peace.
4 – Where Do I Go From Here? This idea comes from Father Michael Gaitley, MIC on page 176 of his book, The One Thing Is Three. Father Gaitley says that”Witness Draws Faith.” If you are aligned, even in the midst of a life that seems to be going south, people will notice that. People who are not aligned will witness the peace and joy and sense of purpose, in the midst of suffering, and wonder “What is she doing right? What does she have? Why don’t I have that? Why can’t I get that?” This puts you in a position to have what is known as a “threshold conversation” – that initial, very natural conversation about you, about them, about your journey, about God and God’s purpose for them.
This is where you put your passion at the service of others. Christ left us his new commandment – to love one another as he has loved us. And he showed us what love really is: to give our lives for others. We give our lives by putting our talents at the service of those around us, by being creative and being courageous. That is being like Christ!
- Identify one person. Who is a leader in your Church, company, neighborhood whose life really seems “aligned.” Who is that person whom you have observed taking risks for growth? Just identify them as a first step (Talk to them as a second step).
- Identify your talent. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing that is easy, fun, gives you life and seems to elicit positive comments and compliments from others when you do it? A biblical list of these gifts is here. In her “Spiritual Gifts Inventory,” Sherry Widdel from Catherine of Siena Institute provides a similar list here.
- Advanced Homework – Your gifts were not given to you for yourself alone.In his General Audience of Wednesday, 24 April 2013, Pope Francis said: “Have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how you can put them at the service of others? Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart. The ideals of service make your talents fruitful. Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” So, based on what the Holy Father said, consider what this talent of yours could accomplish, incredible things, if you were to exercise it with full power, knowing you absolutely could – not – fail.
Audio version of the homily is here: