Be Great for God

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

TO THE YOUTH

Beloved in Jesus Christ, in the year 1227, a distraught man ran to St. Anthony of Padua because his daughter had just drown in the river: ‘Oh Father Anthony, please help us, my daughter has died.’
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So they hurried to the river and found a crowd of people and the mother holding her dead daughter who had been pulled from the river.
Anthony took the limp girl into his arms, and kneeling down with the little, lifeless body he looked to heaven and prayed: ‘Father. Father, listen to another father’s suffering. I ask you only for a breath of air. A single breath, for your child.    Breathe into this girl; Make her live, Lord!
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Hardly had he finished, than did the wind begin to blow; a sign – an answer. The wind blew and blew, and – suddenly, coughing up water, the girl opened her eyes and sat up – alive. ‘She lives!,’ they said. ‘She lives!’
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Friends in Christ, young people here today: What St. Anthony was able to do in his short life is literally astounding. In the Holy Gospel today, Jesus tells us a parable about using our life in the very best way we can.
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He tells of a Master who went on a journey; he entrusted money to his servants to invest for him. He expected them to use the money in ways that would increase his wealth.
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We know about this; you can put your money in the bank and at least get a little interest every year. You can buy some stock in a company; Or you can take your money and use it to start a business. There are many ways that those servants could have taken the money their master entrusted to them, to make it grow, if they took initiative.
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So what do we find.  Some did. The man who was given 5 talents was able to make 5 more. The one who was given 2 talents, he made 2 more. The master was proud of those hard workers who had taken initiative. But the man to whom he gave 1 talent did nothing with it. The master said to him: ‘You lazy servant! Should you not at least have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest? Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten; And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside.’
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What is Jesus teaching us here? Well, the Master who entrusted his servants with talents, and then went on a long trip – this is Jesus. St. Gregory says, the man traveling into a far country is our Redeemer, who ascended into heaven.’
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But he has entrusted to each of us certain gifts, talents, and abilities that he expects us to use. The word in the bible, ‘talent,’ means a certain weight of gold, used in ancient times. But it is from this parable that we get the word ‘talent’ today, meaning the abilities or natural gifts that each person has.
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Every single person here is unique; each of you are irreplaceable in God’s plan, with your own abilities and talents. There is not another person in the entire universe like you, never was and never will be, and we all have a role to play in God’s great drama.
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So our Master, Jesus, has ascended to heaven, but he now gives each of us our life, to make something of it for him. We have one life to give God as much glory as we can.
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I mentioned St. Anthony. He was a person who did as much as he possibly could with his life, for the glory of God; he did very difficult things for other people, he thought of how he could help others not himself, and he did all for the glory of God.
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When St. Anthony was young, he had many talents. He was very smart, he was excellent at sports. There is a movie I have about him which shows that he was really athletic, very good at jousting; jousting was a fierce sport between two horsemen, riding at each other with lances. The goal was to strike the opponent with the lance while riding towards him at high speed, if possible breaking his lance or shield, knocking him off his horse.
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St. Anthony had many talents, but he wanted to use his talents in the best way he could. He became a priest and used his tremendous mind to study the Holy Scriptures, he was an expert. He risked being killed for the Catholic Faith in Morocco, and then as a great Franciscan, preached the word of God everywhere.
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St. Anthony did everything he could for Jesus Christ; in this way he multiplied the talents that God gave him and God rewarded his efforts with many miracles.
When we do in our life what God is asking us to do; when we use our gifts to help others; when we do what is right even if it is not popular, and stand up for the Truth and true morality, when no one else will. then we are using our talents for Christ, and it is this that makes life really worth living.
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Some people waste away the life God has given them; they hang out at bars or parties their whole life, or at gambling casinos day in and day out, wasting their talents. Others had good abilities in school – aptitude to learn – they could have been a doctor or engineer or architect, but they were lazy and did nothing at all with their life.
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Others could have been an apprentice to learn to be a carpenter or electrician or craftsman; or taken classes to be a nurse or a teacher; but instead they spend their years playing computer games.
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When we face our Master at Judgment, he will ask, ‘What have you done with your life?’ And to those who have wasted it, he will say, ‘You wicked lazy servant. You have done nothing with the talents I gave you.’ ‘Then cast him into the outer darkness.’
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Everything we do, if we do it well and use our abilities, can be done for God, for his glory; then we will be able to say at the end of our life: ‘Lord, you have given me these talents, and I have done great things with them.’ And he will say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your Master’s joy.’
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I have a friend who did not have too many talents; he was not super smart or gifted, really. But he tried his best and worked hard. He prayed and asked God to always show him the way, and to have the courage to do whatever is best. He is very successful today. He has a good job, a wife and family, and he still prays and goes to Mass and keeps trying to do what God wants. All this, because he used his talents the best he could, and asked God’s help.
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We should do the same:
To study, to give up laziness, to work hard, and make plans for our future. When we earn money, save some of it for trade school or for college. Make a plan to become a great mother or father some day, or even a priest or a religious sister, and lead others in the right way all the time, no matter what.
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We aren’t perfect; we make mistakes and sins. But then we go to Confession, and begin again – to serve God. By praying every day and asking God to help us, we will know how to be great and use our talents to the full. St. John Vianney says, ‘Without the Holy Spirit we are nothing. But with the Holy Spirit, we can be very great.’
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This world, dear young people, needs such great persons. But we must decide, especially when it is difficult, to use our talents for what is right and good, and to work hard.
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Pope John Paul II was recently named a saint. Here is what he said one time to a group of young people such as yourselves, about their future:  ‘I address myself especially to you, dear young people, you who are in the decisive moment of your life. I would like to ask each one of you: what are you going to do with your life? What plans do you have? Have you ever thought of giving yourself totally to Christ?    
    You find yourself in a time in which you have to decide your path, decide how to build a happy future. I tell you this, when you decide the future, do not decide it thinking only of yourselves. Your Christian vocation means introducing the Gospel to the world in which we live!    
     You who are single, or preparing for marriage, I say this – follow Christ! You who are young or old – follow Christ! You who are sick or aging – follow Christ! You who feel the need for a friend – Follow Christ!
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St. John Paul tells us the way to build a happy, wonderful future: we must follow Jesus Christ, and it is never too late to begin, even if you are 98 years old!
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To follow Jesus – well, we can always count on Mother Mary to help us on the way. Mary, pray for us, so that we will really use our talents always for the glory of God.

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[Entrusted to the Prayers of St. Agatha]

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