2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 25:14-30; 11-15-2020 (As Built; Amite #424)

 

  1. Talent, talent.
  2. The stadium is packed. It is wall-to-wall people. I’m telling you, there is so much noise, you can’t even hear yourself think. They have been putting this on their calendar for months. They knew that it would someday come to their backyard. They have lined the baseball field. There are more people there than you could ever imagine. There are cars, there’s horns, there’s music, there’s band, there’s cowbells, it is so loud that it’s almost agonizing. It’s the champion baseball game and they have come out in volume. As a matter of fact, it is so crowded that they have been yelling since the first pitch, and now we are in the 9th inning, and man, it’s at a fever pitch. Man, it’s the bottom of the 9th, there are 2 men on, there is a man on first and there is a man on second, and the league’s best batter has come to the plate. When he started to walk up from the on deck circle, you could hear the boos cascading almost as if they had a life themselves. Man, you saw things being thrown from the stands, people are screaming… all kinds of un-nice things. As he begins to walk up to the stadium, catcher runs out, talks to the pitcher, gotta make sure, this is important, best player in the game has now come to the plate. The coach is sitting in the dugout. He’s watching his man prepare to take his cuts, he looks down and sees a man sitting at the end. He walks down, he sees one of his players, he puts his arm around him, and he says “If this man gets on, if this man gets on and the bases become loaded, you will go in for Johnson, and you will bunt on the first pitch. You understand?” “Yessir.” “Fair enough.” He takes his arm off of him and walks back down. Batter gets to the plate. First pitch, ball one. Man, the crowd erupts. Man, they are screaming. They are screaming at the umpire, the noise, you can’t even have a conversation side-to-side it’s so feverish. Heads are up, man, here comes the next pitch. Man, strike one. Next thing you know, man, they’re so excited that you can feel the intensity start to grow. Man, the coach looks down at the in and sees the man, he’s got his head down, gets back up, walks down, puts his arm around the young boy and he said “What did I tell you?” He said “If this man gets on, I’m supposed to go in for Johnson, tell the umpire, and on the first pitch, bunt.” He said “Son, you’ve got the most talent out of all of the guys to be in this spot. Just do what I tell you, you’ll do fine.” He walks back down. Next thing you know, here comes the next pitch, Ball 2. Man, they are still screaming and yelling, cowbells are going off, horns are sounding, bands are going off, you can’t even signal to the coach because the noise is so loud. Next thing you know, it’s a full count, and, man, people are about to have an apoplexy. As a result of it, man, Ball 4, the bases are now loaded. The young man walks by the coach. The coach just leans over to him and he said “Son, you got the talent, do what you do best. This is nothing for you.” Young man walks up there, the umpire comes out, takes his mask off, opens his notepad, and he said “Sir, my name is Smith. I’m bunting for Johnson on the first pitch.” Man, the umpire does not know what he’s supposed to signal. The catcher is trying to yell “They are bunting on the first pitch!” Man, he’s screaming, his coach, they can’t hear him, he gets in the batter’s box, here comes the pitch. That guy lays down the most perfect bunt, you couldn’t have drawn it any better, and LSU wins their first championship series against Mississippi State with Skip Bertman. True story. It’s all about the talen. My brothers and sisters in Christ, when they asked coach Bertman “Well, how good is he?” He said “I’ma tell you how good of a player he is. If you watched him throw, you’d say he’s alright, if you watched him run the bases, okay, maybe not where he needs to be, if you watched him catch outfield, he’s okay, but if I put a quarter on the ground and tell him to bunt, and I guarantee you he will hit that quarter 2 out of 3 times.” That is his talent.
  3. And that is exactly that gospel. The good lord is now making a parable, that Imma give each of you talents based on your ability and his generosity, and to some he gave 5, to one he gave 2, and to another he gave 1. Now stop, you’re a first century Jew, make sure you understand what all of this is about. You and I have been living in the day. If we are in the middle of this conversation and we see him pull out a gold or silver coin, that’s a talent. 20 years worth of wages, one coin. 20 years, so even if you got one, you’ve got 20 years of wages. If you only made quote $50,000 a year, you’ve now made $1,000,000, that’s how valuable it is, so for him to give you five, or two, man, the generosity, and the blessing, and the responsibility that comes with it. Now stop, just like with any parable, make sure you understand. Wherever the twist is is where you need to look, something that doesn’t seem logical. Why would this be here in the middle of this parable, it doesn’t seem to fit? Here is a man that only had one talent that buried it. His argument to the man that gave him the seed, to the man that has the land, to the man that owns the crop, that I’m going to give you work so that you can take care of your family, and what’s his argument? Well, you didn’t throw the seeds out, I did it, and I had to go gather it. You didn’t plow the fields, I had to do it, you didn’t have to do it. This is why the king is so upset, he’s saying “So that’s your answer? You just buried the talent?” so he takes the talent, he gives it to the one that has all of them, 10 if you will, and then turns around and says “Be gone with you into the wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Now stop, as a Jew you and I know what that means. That actually means he is throwing you into Hell, he’s talking about the sin of omission. Now, please listen, there are two types of sin. The sin of commission, that’s the ones we’ve committed, we have acted on, we cursed, we gossiped, we did this, we did that, we knew what we were doing, we chose to do it, the sin of commission. The sin of omission is that we simply chose not to do anything, to feign amnesia, to look the other way, not put your talents in play. Here’s the irony, he didn’t put his talent into play, he didn’t kill one person, but yet he’s on his way to perdition and the road to hell because he didn’t live up to the talent that I gave you. I put you in the world on this day, I’m bringing you home on this day. In between, I’ve given you gifts, and talents, and challenges. As long as you come to me, your burden will be light. When you decide to take it on your own, then you are just that, on your own. He’s saying this is how you will be judged. I’ve given you my rules, the commandments, there are only 10, do you know them besides thou shalt not kill because that is what did him in.
  4.  My brothers in sisters in Christ, go back in scripture. All of our better players have talents that you and I seem to overlook when we read about them. Paul has absolutely got the gift of perseverance. You can beat Paul, 5 scourges that we know of, when they tell you that they are going to scourge you, that’s 40 lashes, and in case they miscounted, they would stop at 39, 5 sets is what Paul gets throughout his life. 3 of the 4 or 5 ships that he’s on sink. He has been beaten, just like he was out of Thessalonica, he’s been stoned, he’s lost all of his money. Do you know that he’s the only apostle, being that he is the 13th, if you will, to keep his day job as a tentmaker? He had to rely totally on himself. That guy marched the march, he’s lost fame and fortune, and no matter what you did to him, he proclaims Christ to be the messiah. That’s the gift of perseverance. My boy Peter, he is absolutely resilient. His gift is his ability to take a hit and keep moving. No matter what you say about Peter, give him his due. Yeah, that’s true, he got into a boat and the first time he said “Lord, it’s too late to be fishing”, next thing you know, they catch more fish than you know. He’s got to drop in the boat and say “Depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man.” and if that’s not good enough, man, that’s Peter, he’s got to step back out on the plank again. A storm comes up, he’s getting mad at the good lord because “Well Lord, stop the storm.” and then he’s got to rebuke the wind. You would hope that Peter might have learned from that. The next thing you know, he’s got to walk on water. Next thing you know, the good lord calls him Satan. The next thing you know, he’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, he’s lopping a man’s ear off, and the next thing you know, he’s denying our savior three times. Do you know what I love about Peter? There is nothing that you can tell Peter towards the end of his life that he can’t say “Me too.” No, you don’t understand Peter, I’ve had problems with my family. “I was married. I’m going to be bringing my wife to martyrdom. Me too.” Well, you just don’t understand, I’ve really disappointed my friends. “Huh, I wrote the book on that. Me too.” Well, you don’t understand. I got so excited, I got a little angry, I got into an argument. “Yeah, I know. I took a man’s ear.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, he’s got the gift and the talent of being resilient. John the Baptist has the gift of being disciplined. Who in their right minds would leave the school that your parents sent you to to walk out into the desert knowing full well that once you proclaim this guy to be the messiah, it’s over for you? You are not even a reed blowing in the wind, you’ve got to wear a camel skin, you have to eat a certain diet because you’re outside of your commune, you’ve got to pray so many times a day, you can have nothing of your own, and everybody that you meet has an opinion of you, and it’s usually less than. Man, John the Baptist has got discipline. Longinus, man, think about it, here is a guy with all the powers to be watching, Caesar from up the hill, all these soldiers that he has been in all these fights with, all the people. For him to turn around during the crucifixion and say “Truly, that man was the son of God.” there goes his 401K, there goes his health insurance. Man, you’ve got to hand it to Longinus, that man is courageous to walk away from everything and make that proclamation. Do you know what’s amazing? For everyone that does this, there is always one that does that. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Judas was an apostle, one of the twelve, your name will be in the book for all eternity. Regrettably, it still is, and in a bad way. All you had to say were two words from being Saint Judas. “I’m sorry.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, can you imagine what our world would be like today, our country, Cuba, a communist country. If we just followed the teachings of the Lord, would not every country be a paradise and be open and willing? There are just 10 rules, if we followed the 10 rules, would we even need a police force? Would we even need anybody to discipline? Would you need a court system if you just followed the 10?
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, here you and I sit 2,000 years later. The question for you and I is “Are we putting our talents in play?” My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember this: God’s gift to you and I is our talent, how we use that talent is our gift back to him, so as a result of it, my brothers and sisters in Christ, so we don’t commit the sin of omission, are you putting your talents in play? Think of 1, 2, 3 things off of the top of your head that you do best and, man, you do well, matter of fact, other people know you do it well. Man, you’re good with your hands, so you make sure you keep it in play, man, you’re good with your intellect, or computers, that you’re always helping others because you know that is your gift, maybe your gift is engineering, maybe it’s your ability to understand money or finances, maybe it’s medicine or chemistry so that you can make the complicated less complicated. My brothers and sisters in Christ, there is no such thing as a self-made man, that’s a bald faced lie. Every time I hear someone say “Man, Michael Jordan, man, all natural.” my brothers and sisters in Christ, all gifts are supernatural, nobody has natural gifts. He has given to those, and given to those more, and to some he has given less. The fact of the matter is that you and I are accountable for it, therein lies the point.
  6. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I leave you with this. The sin of omission is every bit as deadly as the sin of commission. You just heard it, you’ve got to put your gifts in play. At the end of the day, have you done more good with your gifts than bad, that I curse more than I put my gifts in play, that I gossip more than I put my gifts in play, that I lie more than I put my gifts in play, that I hear thank you’s more than anything else for putting my gift in play? And I’ll leave you with the words of John Wooden, the basketball coach at UCLA for so many years. He says “The talent you have has come from God, be humble. The fame you get came from man, be gracious. Conceit comes from yourself, be overly cautious and guarded.”
  7. Amen.

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