33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 Matthew 25: 14-30
Next Sunday marks the end of the liturgical year and it is the feast of Christ the King. I think of that feast as a “fireworks and brass band” kind of feast. On the other hand, this Sunday’s readings give us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year. It is like giving ourselves a report card: what have I done well, what still needs improvement?
The first reading from Proverbs gives us a detailed description of the “worthy wife”. Not everyone fits this category but many of the virtues and activities listed are applicable to everyone. In our second reading it seems that the Thessalonians may have asked Paul to tell them when Jesus is going to return. Paul tells them that he cannot give them a “time or season” as to when Jesus will come.
Our Gospel is from chapter 25 of Matthew. Chapter 26 begins the story of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection. Verse one of chapter 26 says, “Jesus had now finished all he wanted to say”. So, we might say that chapter 25 is Jesus’ last will and testament for his disciples.
The gospel tells us that a man had three servants. The Master gave each of them talents, five to one, two to another, and one to the last. Finding out the value of a “talent” in Jesus’ time is not easy, but after some investigation, I’m going to say that one talent, in today’s money, is worth $500,000, give or take. The first servant takes his 2.5 million, traded with them and made another 2.5 million. The second servant did the same with his one million. The third servant buried his talent. The Master came back “a long time after” and we know the rest of the story.
Now it is report card and planning for the future time. I think the theme
for all the readings is, “Do not rest on your laurels. Do not be satisfied with what you have done in the past. Make the effort to do all you can. The criteria by which we judge ourselves are: Love of God, love of our neighbors, love of our enemies, and love of creation.
So, what can we learn from the wise woman? We are to work with loving hands. We are to reach out to the poor, and extend our arms to the needy. We are to bring good, and not evil to our world, and we are to “fear the Lord”. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is the source and sum of all virtues. We are to have an attitude of respect and reverence, of wonder and thankfulness.
What can we learn from St. Paul and also my Dad? When Dad retired, he and Mom moved to the mountains of northern California. One day friends visited and Dad took the kids for a walk around their three acres. There are always vultures circling overhead and one of the kids asked about the birds. Dad told them that the vultures were looking for dead animals to eat, so they had better look alive!
Paul also tells us to “look alive”, be alert, and be aware of who and what is around us. We are to be ready to respond when we see a need.
And what can we learn from Jesus? The Master trusted his servants. I think the Master would have been happy if the third servant had taken a risk and tried, even if he lost the money. It’s interesting that the gospel word talent has meaning for us as an ability. How do we use our abilities? We need to ask ourselves – do we trust ourselves, do we trust God, are we willing to take a risk, are we willing to take the initiative in building up the reign of God?
So, my advice, be on the lookout for vultures and look alive!!!
Mary Keefe, OP
Dominican Sister of Adrian