Thirty-third Sunday in
November 16, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20,
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
A burglar – a thief at night – broke
into a New York
company that manufactures burglar-proof glass.
He did it by – guess what – smashing the company’s glass doors. The firm’s president said, “It never occurred
to us to put burglar-proof glass in our own
As we near the end of the Church’s
year, there is a strong suggestion in our scripture selections that we prepare
for the Lord’s unexpected arrival. Saint Paul wrote, “that
the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.” Shouldn’t you and I, then, prepare?
But the parable of Jesus heard today
is not so much about our expectations
of Christ’s return as it is about Christ’s
expectations of us.
parable is not about making a profit, or even about developing one’s God-given
abilities. A talent was a weight of
money, scholars estimate between 60 and 75 pounds of silver. (At approximately $720,000 per talent in
currency, the first of the servants received about $3.6 million.) Historians surmise a talent was at that time worth
6,000 drachmas (or Latin denarii), each denarius considered a minimum wage for a day’s pay. Doing the math, a single talent in those days
was equivalent to a year’s income for a wealthy family, or 16 years’ wages for
a common person.
Jesus hinted that money is not the point of his story. Notice the Master referred to the talents as
“a small matter” (though the sums were considerable, even for a wealthy
person). So Jesus implies money is not
the point of the story. Following this
hint, contemporary use of the term “talent” no longer means a weight of silver,
but a metaphor for a person’s God-given capabilities.
But that’s another detour, because the
key to the parable is not the talents, but the reaction of the Master upon his return. His response to his servants was to grant “greater
responsibility” to the first two, who share in their Master’s joy. Then the Master took away all responsibility from
the timid servant, who ended up outside in the darkness, where there is no joy,
but only the “wailing and grinding of teeth.”
this parable Jesus revealed God’s expectation of you and me, his servants. If we wish to enter the kingdom of God,
you and I must become adventuresome like those first two servants. We should not trust caution, like the timid
servant. There must be daring in our
lives, if we are to become part of God’s kingdom. To double each sum of silver required great daring
– they could have lost all of their Master`s money, perhaps forfeiting their
lives! But their daring was richly
rewarded. Timidity, on the other hand, paralyzed
the third servant: he did nothing. He stayed safe. And he lost everything!
Where is the adventure, the
risk-taking, in our life of faith – as a Church and as individuals? Although the consequences are profound, Jesus
is not looking for cautious, safe participation in the Kingdom of God. The participation to which Jesus calls us is
risk-taking; it’s adventure.
Our young people are good at
risk-taking. Every nervous parent who
lends their teenager the car keys knows what that means. Every teen who has taken a dare knows what
I’m talking about. And every adult who
has started a business or who has boldly taken a responsible position in the
corporation knows what I’m talking about.
Abundant life comes from risk-taking and it’s an adventure.
That’s what Jesus is talking about
in this parable. Who’s ready for the
adventure of a lifetime? Who’s ready to
take our faith seriously and do something with it? That’s what the Master will be looking for
when he returns at the end our own life or at the end of all time.
It’s going to be an adventure to be
a Catholic or a Christian in these days.
The Church has been sorely wounded by the sexual abuse scandals,
exposing the Church’s standing as a moral leader to ridicule by comics on TV and
smart-alecks at work or school. That
makes it adventuresome to stand up for our Catholic beliefs. Criticism doesn’t change the fact that our
beliefs are from God.
As American Catholics we face
temptations to play it safe, like that third servant, because leadership in the
White House and Congress and Beacon Hill is so completely pro-abortion and
pro-the Gay Activist agenda. For us to
propose a moral, religious, and political position that is Pro-Life and follows
the natural law concerning sexuality demands great courage. It will also require well informed
consciences and articulate arguments. It
presupposes deep faith, especially when we may be afraid of being accused of
being weirdly religious, homophobic, closed-minded or hate-filled. All these are words intended to make us bury our
talents. But what will the Master say
when he returns? That should be our Catholic concern, not how others may criticize or
Catholics will need more courage
than we’ve needed since the early days of our nation when in many colonies (and,
later on, some states) Catholics were persecuted and priests had a bounty on
their heads for celebrating Mass. Those
kinds of laws are unlikely today, but we do face so many so-called Catholic
politicians who embarrass our faith by living immodestly and by supporting laws
that offend our Catholic teachings and consciences. Some of our fellow citizens – our neighbors –
also hold the Church in disdain and ridicule, or dismiss the Christian faith is
irrelevant. To stand up to proclaim and
live our faith in the face such people and leaders will be an adventure!
law and politics, Christians meet the immediate needs of people around us. Are you and I afraid to extend ourselves to
our neighbor for fear of rejection – or worse, of getting too “involved?” We have a responsibility to be involved. “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was asked. And he told the story of the Good Samaritan, [i] who
pitied and helped the wounded traveler.
Besides our response to a neighbor’s practical needs, an end in itself, showing
compassion to neighbors also calls them to belief. Compassion is evangelization. The faith may become their adventure, too!
Prepare! Prepare for the adventure by discerning our
talents through our study of scripture and in prayer. Prepare for the adventure by nurturing our
talents in the sacraments of the Church.
Those who have boldly undertaken the adventure of a living faith will
gain more until they grow rich, while those who are fearful of this
adventuresome spirit will lose the little they think they have.
November 9, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
1 Corinthians 3:9c-11,
This is one of the Church’s special
celebrations that may seem puzzling, an anachronism. We commemorate the dedication of a church
building that most of us will never see, nor could we identify its picture in a
lineup. But this is a tradition that’s
been celebrated by us since November 9, 324.
that day Pope Sylvester II dedicated a church in Rome called Saint John Lateran, a building
donated by Emperor Constantine.
Originally it was a palace owned by the Laterani family, hence the
name. The palace was adapted into a church. (So it’s not that unusual for the Church to re-purpose
a building, as we are doing here in Carver.)
The bishop of Rome
(that is, the pope) chose this church as his cathedral, and it was the pope’s
residence until about the year 1000.
Only after that did popes have a residence in the Vatican
district of Rome.
church was dedicated, which is unusual, to two saints named John: John the Baptist and John the
Evangelist. It was re-constructed in the
fourteenth century and again in the sixteenth century. Today it is still the pope’s cathedral. As such, it is the central church in the
inscription is carved over its entranceway.
It’s in Latin, of course. Be
prepared to hear words that are familiar in English. One is urbis
as in “urban,” pertaining to a city.
Another is orbis, as in “orb,”
meaning a globe and “orbit,” that of traveling above the atmosphere around the
earth. And the words are: Omnium
urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput, translated “Mother and head of
all the churches of the city (meaning Rome)
and the world.” St. John Lateran
Cathedral is the mother and head church building of our religion. From its chair (or cathedra) infallible matters of doctrine have been pronounced since
the fourth century.
instead of focusing on the architecture of this venerable church, take a moment
with me to reflect on the nature of – not the building – but of the Church
itself. We find an outline for doing
this in the Nicene Creed that you and I recite nearly every weekend. The outline describes the “marks” of the Church: that the Church is one, holy, catholic
One. Jesus promised, “… I will ask the Father, and
he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth,
which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you,
and will be in you. I will not leave you
orphans; I will come to you.”  And so, with the descent of that Holy Spirit
on Pentecost, Christ established a visible Church with human leaders inspired
to guide it. Through the Church, the
graces of God flow to each of us. The
Church is not, as Protestant tradition claims, an invisible community of
believers linked together only by the Bible.
From the beginning, God sent leaders to preach the Gospel without error,
and sacraments to nourish and heal us.
The Church is our source of grace.
Though there are many historical varieties and
cultural expressions of Catholicism, 
Christ left us one Church guided by the Apostles led by Peter, to whom Jesus
gave the power of the keys, 
the authority to forgive and to bind sins.
Peter’s successors, the bishop of Rome
along with the college of bishops throughout the world, continue to lead that
same Church. Sadly, there are profound
differences in Church polity between Catholics and Orthodox, but there is unity
among us even there because of the sacraments and correct doctrinal teachings
that make us one. The Church remains
united through the consistent teaching of the bishops since the Apostolic age,
truth carefully handed down from generation to generation.
Holy. The Church has all the human flaws its
members bring to it. But because the
Church was established by Christ to continue his ministry – the Gospel –
through the ages, then it is holy simply because it is Christ’s. It may be symbolic or even ironic that while
other Christian church buildings may top their steeples with a weathervane to
test the direction of the wind, Catholic churches are topped with a cross, for
our mission is to preach honestly the Gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him
Catholic. “Catholic” is a Greek word that means
“universal.” The Church reaches out to
all people. It serves all people,
without distinction of social status, ethnic origin or even faith itself. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis remind all of
us: each one of us is to be an
evangelizer. It is in your nature and
mine as disciples of Christ to bring the Gospel to those who have drifted away
from the Church, and to introduce the Gospel to those who have never known the
faith. It is also our mission to see in
all people our neighbor.
Apostolic. The Church’s mission is to continue the
preaching of the Apostles. To do this,
as the Church expanded beyond Israel
and the Apostles’ lifetimes, it was necessary to pass on the authority to teach
and preach the truth to others.
Matthias, for example, was chosen by the Eleven to replace Judas, who
had betrayed the Lord. 
This passing on of authority continued throughout the apostolic period and
beyond. The symbol for doing this is the
“laying on of hands” first done by the Apostles and then by their successors
ever since. The first deacons were so
ordained by the Apostles.  Even Saint
Paul, along with Barnabas, was ordained by the
Apostles.  Every Catholic bishop today can trace his
ordination back to bishops in a chain leading directly to one or more of the
so, as we commemorate the dedication of Saint John Lateran cathedral 1,690
years ago, we acknowledge the gift of God’s grace that flows through the Church
to us. We give thanks for the Church
that has kept alive Christ among us in authentic preaching and in
sacrament. And as a community of faith
we are reinvigorated in our own vocation to evangelize – each of us to bring
the Good News of Christ to the world today.
 Among these
are the Melkites, Ukrainians (“Greek”), Byzantines, Maronites, and now even an
Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 26, 2014
Anthony Medairos, pastor
18:2-4, 47, 51
For the Old Testament Jews, there
were 613 commandments. Thankfully for
catechism classes today someone back in ancient times (in David Letterman-fashion)
made a list of the Top Ten. These are
the ones you and I memorized. But,
theologically speaking, all of the 613 were considered of equal
importance. And trespassing any of them
was equally serious.
There were, of course, religious
teachers who tried to simplify for average people that which only religious
scholars might be expected to know. For
example the great rabbi Hillel, who lived at the same time as Jesus, taught,
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Law; the rest is
explanation. Go and learn.”
The Pharisees set a trap for
Jesus: they goaded him to choose the
greatest commandment. Of course all 613
were of equal importance, so anything Jesus said would minimize most of them
and enmesh him in a theological error.
But Jesus answered boldly that the greatest commandment is the first,
the commandment that every observant Jew would pray every morning, the Shema Y’srael – found in the Book of
Deuteronomy: “Hear, oh Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” 
I am looking at a church filled with
believers. And we can all attest to the
ideal of loving God wholeheartedly. That
is self evident. But how is that love to
be measured? How do we know that we do love God – or love God enough?
So Jesus went a step further,
quoting from the Book of Leviticus: “You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  And just as the great rabbi Hillel had
observed, Jesus also explained, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these
The American philosopher and social
commentator Eric Hoffer remarked, “It is easier to love humanity as a whole
than to love one’s neighbor.” 
In other words, it is easier to love in the world of ideas; not so much in the
real world. Or as one comedian said, “I
love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.”
We are to love our neighbor as
ourself. What has this to do with
God? And what has this to do with
ourself? Two things: First, the way we love our neighbor is a kind
of thermometer of the degree to which we have allowed God’s love to dwell
within ourself.  We
need to be careful about this: Remember
that love is not a sentiment, not a feeling.
We don’t need to like those whom we must love. But we do acknowledge that they are God’s
creatures and worthy of respect and affirmation. As an act of faith, we acknowledge through
our love of others that “God is love.”  As the Harvard theologian Harvey Cox wrote,
“Therefore, loving, including the neighbor, including the enemy, is an act of
participation in the life of God.” 
And even when we do not love our
neighbor perfectly, God’s love within us can heal this lack in us. God’s love within actually makes our attempts
to love our neighbors possible. “The more we desire to love all men, the more
God’s love will be perfected in us.” 
Second, look at the call to love
neighbor “as yourself” from another point of view. At first blush “as yourself” seems to mean
that we should love others as much as we love ourselves. And, of course, loving others “demands that
we first love ourselves and let ourselves be loved by God.”  Some people, sadly, “fail to appreciate, to
reverence, who we are and who it is that lives in us.” 
A person burdened with self-loathing who tries to love others may find it a
robotic, sterile experience. Such a
person faces burn-out and may quickly abandon his or her efforts. To be fruitful in loving your neighbor “as
yourself,” you must understand that you are loved and loveable yourself. We all need to know that we are loved by God.
And here is where a mystery
occurs. What loving a neighbor “as
yourself” also means is that the more
you do love your neighbor, the more
you will love yourself. Ironically, the
less you love your neighbor, the less you love yourself. Jesus, in the Great Commandment, revealed
that living a fulfilled life revolves around constantly giving ourselves to
those with whom we share that life.
So Jesus was able to say, “The whole
law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” The way to love God fully is to love our
neighbor. The love of neighbor is in
fact, a participation in the life of God, for God is love. And in the act of loving our neighbor, our
own love of self actually grows, inviting us – by manifesting that love toward
others – to live a truly fulfilled life.
 Eric Hoffer, as
quoted in Reader’s Digest, July 1996.
 George A.
Mahoney, Inward Stillness (Denville,
NJ: Dimensions Books, 1976), p. 172.
Cox, “Shifting Discourse,” Harvard
Divinity Bulletin (Autumn 2008), p. 13.
 Edward J.
Farrell, Gathering the Fragments: A
Gospel Mosaic (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1987, p. 16.
Twenty-eighth Sunday in
October 12, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
I don’t notice trends in my
homilies. I never plan a series as it
seems some Protestant preachers do, announcing, “The next six Sundays I’ll be
speaking on ‘Sin and Grace.’” Priests
are constrained to keep close to the scriptures as set forth sequentially in
our lectionary. But as I reviewed my
homilies of recent weekends I realized that the gospels themselves were
trending in a specific direction.
There is a thread connecting these
scriptures, summed up in the idea of “insiders / outsiders.” We heard the parable of the vineyard owner
who hired workers at various hours of the day and paid the ones who had worked
only a few hours the same daily wage as those who worked all day. He did not treat the late arriving workers as
outsiders who should receive short-pay and those who worked all day as insiders
deserving a bonus. Jesus said of God’s
kingdom, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Then we heard of the son who became
his society’s outsider for shaming his father when he refused to work in the
vineyard. The insider was his brother,
who quickly agreed to do his father’s bidding.
But the outsider reconsidered and went to the vineyard after all, while
the insider reneged and failed to do his father’s will. Jesus said to the elders of the people, “Tax
collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
Last weekend the insiders were the
ones given a vineyard to tend for a landowner but who at harvest time refused
to give him the produce due the owner.
Instead, they mistreated and killed his messengers, even his son. So the landowner killed the tenant farmers
and gave his vineyard to the care of outsiders.
Jesus said to the elders of the people, “The kingdom of God will be
taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
And the thread continues today: insiders / outsiders. As a noted preacher observed a hundred years
ago, “When I arrive in heaven I expect to be surprised by three things: first,
to see who is there; second, to discover who is not there; and last, to arrive there myself.” 
God does not measure insiders and outsiders as humans do.
In today’s parable Jesus draws our
attention to those invited to a wedding feast.
To our own celebrations we naturally invite people we like. So did this king to his son’s wedding. But some of the insiders refused to
come. Don’t know why. But that’s A-listers for you; somewhat
self-important. So the king went to his
B-list. They are “sort-of” insiders, but
not top shelf. Many of these were
distracted by other things engaging their attention: they got a better offer or they were busy
with farm or business. Finally the king
invited outsiders from the main roads and streets the “bad and good alike.”
If we were to pull the thread that
weaves through these parables what will unravel is an understanding that the
least here on earth, the outsiders, are valued beyond measure in God’s
kingdom. Perhaps the response called for
is that you and I might have to alter our perspective on who are the insiders
and the outsiders. And we might have to
soften our hearts and act differently toward some unexpected people.
There is a universality in God’s
call to intimacy with himself. In Jesus
we discover the living example of how God reaches out to those whom righteous
people may discount as unworthy: the last to the vineyard’s work, the
disrespectful but penitent son, the replacement tenant farmers; the tax
collectors and prostitutes, the stone that the builders rejected, the last who
will become first. What a revelation of
God’s abundant mercy!
But in celebrating God’s mercy we
may become complacent, even wishy-washy.
We are tempted to think the Kingdom of God has no standards other than
mercy and forgiveness. Here we get into
the area of moral relativism, where there are no standards. And even if there are standards, God will
forgive us everything. So why bother?
But in God’s kingdom there are
standards and there are expectations. We
hear of the man lately invited to the wedding feast of the king’s son but who was
not wearing a wedding garment. There
have been several explanations for this man’s situation. But the clearest one is that he had no
excuse. When confronted for the absent
wedding garment, “He was reduced to silence.”
He had accepted the invitation to the king’s banquet, but he would not
conform himself to that occasion, that celebration. As Jesus said, “Many are invited, but few are
So, in addition to softening our
hearts toward the so-called outsiders – as humans judge these people – we must
also consider our own acceptance of the invitation to enter the kingdom of
God. We have come into the presence of
the Body and Blood of Christ in this assembly, on this altar. While some of our brothers and sisters have
refused Christ’s invitation outright (for they do not worship with us at the
Eucharist), at the same time we who have responded to the invitation may
sometimes take Christ for granted. We
have become lackadaisical. At least we
go to Mass! But each of us must examine
ourselves. Have we fully conformed
ourselves to God’s kingdom, to the Body and Blood of Christ? Are we living as disciples – right there in
the celebration of our faith? Or are we
hiding in the shadows, refusing to don the wedding garment of Christian
As the words of institution are
spoken over the bread and wine, the priest says of Christ’s Blood that it “will
be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The invitation
goes out to all God’s creatures, “many” will hear the call and respond
wholeheartedly, but not everyone will.