Home » General » Reflection on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflection on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on November 15, 2020, by Maria Visse SL

I remember a talk by Dominic Crossan about the parables, and there was one one comment that stuck with me. It was that Jesus didn’t give the parables to answer some dilemma. The parable was meant to provoke a response in the person listening to the parable. They are situations that should keep you thinking about, “What does that mean in my life?”  The Gospel today presents, in this parable, the use of resources. We see different responses to the acceptance of the talent or resource. At first glance I think of the “talent” as money or some item for trading. Something to use to acquire more of the same. But what if today we think of the talents as a human resource. That would be the thinking behind my response to the importance of the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” 

So maybe just take this as self-reflection. I’m asking myself, “Why does it seem so important to me that saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ has a significance that goes beyond the the acceptable ‘All Lives Matter?’” Why did I so quickly in my mind link the “talents” of the parable to Black lives. Well, in the face of the current situation here in the USofA and due to reading some books that have been circulating here at the Motherhouse, it happened. I think the current awareness of the mentality of white supremacy within this country, the systemic racism, was all on my mind.

As I thought about the parable, it was not so much about the things, the “talents,” it was about the individuals in the parable; of the two that received the five or the two “talents” and confidently go about making good use of the resources. People who have advantages have a better possibility of increasing their well-being. Then there’s the individual that received one “talent” and buried it  Maybe the individual was not in a position to think beyond his fear of the master. I just kept thinking about Black lives seen as useless servants, thrown into the darkness.

I thought about the Supreme Court decisions in the 1850s that Black people could not have any rights as citizens. Such a long painful history. 

But history moves on.  We have just come through a time of new awakening. I think I see more clearly the depth of emotions that influence the social and political dynamics of the country. So we come back to the more traditional interpretation of this parable of the “talents”: How do I put my “talents” into the movement that says, “Black Lives Matter?” 

I have lived the whole of my 83 years with almost no contact with the Black community.  It was just the way my life moved along. I’m sorry to have to say that.  Just as I came to think in another language and blend into the culture of Chile, so far I’ve missed that kind of experience here in my own country. 

If you read any or all of the books I’ve listed you will be able to read between the lines of today’s reflection. “Talents” multiplied, “talents” offered, “talents buried”:  

“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “Naming who has access and who doesn’t guides our efforts in challenging injustice”; “The American Crisis – What Went Wrong.  How Do We Recover,” articles from “The Atlantic” magazine, published September 2020;  “New York Times Magazine,” “The 1619 Project,” August 2019, Nikole Hannah-Jones; “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” Eddie S. Glaude. November is Black Catholic History Month.

Author’s note: After I sent this off to be printed I just continued to think about the theme.  Was it Black Lives Matter or was it white supremacy that made me think of the “talents” and the distribution of the “talents?” I was influenced by a a quote from “White Fragility”: “Naming who has access and who doesn’t guides our efforts in challenging injustice.


Maria Visse SL

Maria, a member of the Sisters of Loretto since 1955, served as the Loretto Motherhouse Service Coordinator for many years. Among her many other works, she served as a labor and delivery nurse. In 2017, she and Kay Carlew SL spent a month in Ghana visiting with and observing the work of the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity, one of Loretto’s sister communities. A gifted singer and musician, Maria often may be found leading the congregation in song.