The beauty of gifts
Father Kerry Prendiville
Homily from the Televised Mass, NewsCenter1
Thiry-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 12, 2023
As a priest, I’ve never really had the opportunity to buy jewelry. I always thought that if I were married, I’d like to buy jewelry for my wife. And especially something that sticks in my mind, pearls. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard the parable of the pearl of great price, or I just like pearls. But nonetheless, if I think about what I could give my wife, and don’t think about my own vocation, what pearls am I giving to my Church? What finery do I provide for my Church? Or what gifts do I share with my Church to whom I am a spouse? Just as Christ loved the Church so we are to love one another, and I am to be a spouse to my Church just as Christ was a spouse to us.
What personal gifts do we have to share? When Jesus tells the story of the 10 virgins, he’s telling another wisdom story. In the first reading, we read from the Book of Wisdom, “Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, readily perceived by those who love her.”
So, when we love, we have to love what is good, what is right, what is beautiful. That’s the wisdom of God. When we share our gifts, we want to share what is good, what is right, what is beautiful, and do it generously. And that’s the gift of God within us reaching out.
A woman of great wisdom Blessed Mother Teresa, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta was someone who had learned this lesson about the beauty of gifts very, very well. She used her God’s given talents to exhaustion. She was visiting one of her convents of sisters in Australia — a convent that is working with the aboriginal people. And she was going around, visiting homes with them when she visited an elderly man who lived in total isolation in his own home. He was ignored by others. When she went in there, she said to him, “You’re living here by yourself. Let me clean your house. Let me wash your clothes and put your house in order for you.”
He initially refused but she kept insisting. “What you have here is fine, but it will be even better if I can wash your clothes and clean your house.” So, she did.
While she was doing that, she found a lamp in this disorderly mess. It was dusty and unused, and she said, “Why haven’t you used this lamp?”
He said, “Why should I light it? Because no one ever comes to visit me.”
But she said to him, “If the sisters come and visit you every day, will you light this lamp in the evenings?” And he said, “I suppose I would.” Which they did.
Many years later, she received a message through the sisters that he wanted to tell her, “Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life continues to this day.”
I relate this story because brothers and sisters, we do not know always the effect our actions have on other people. But we do know it is the wisdom of God and the justice of God that we share these gifts with each other.
Today in your parish is the in-pew pledge process for the Diocesan Annual Appeal, “One Body.” In the community of the Eucharist, we do become one body, a mystical Body in Christ, and with the gift of that mystical union, we become one voice, one heart, one body with many members to serve the needs of all. And as we’ve reached out in our own community, we can make a pledge today to our diocese to bring the diocesan life alive in the hearts of those who need to know Christ better. We have so many ways of doing that. I encourage you at home, if you have not already, to look at the envelope that the diocese sent you. Pray about it. Think about it. And remember how you have been nourished. Nourished by the Eucharist. Nourished to service. Nourished to receive good things from the Lord. And nourished to be wise in the eyes of the Lord – prepared, diligent, but above all, excessive and love and in service. Just as the example the Lord Jesus was for us.