Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”
We are coming to the end of Ordinary Time and so we get advice in the readings today about how to live. The first reading, from the Book of Proverbs, is clear that a husband and wife can be great and wonderful gifts to one another. But it is not automatic! What a gift the worthy wife! What a gift the man who entrusts his heart to his wife! We all know that it does not always work that way. When it does, we can see the Sacrament of Matrimony at work in a way that is convincing.
The second reading, from the First Letter to the Thessalonians, is also clear that the end of the world, or our personal death as well, will come when we are not expecting it. We need to be prepared at all times to meet the Lord. We may think that we have years left, but God can come at any time, either to end the whole world or to take us to His Kingdom. This is a message reflected throughout all of Scripture: Be ready now! Be alert! Be prepared!
The Gospel, from Saint Matthew, repeats both of these themes as it speaks about how to use the talents given to us. We can think of human talents, but the Gospel is really about how to use the gifts of faith given to us. Whatever we are given in this life, we need to use for God’s glory and for others. Perhaps at times we want to shrug off responsibility and let others take care of things. The Gospel keeps telling us: we are ourselves Christ present in the world. We are the hands and the love of God. We must live our faith or it is no faith.
If we look at today’s world, we can well believe that the end is here. Yet this is so in every age. There is never a time when the world is completely obedient to the Lord and to the love the Father has for us in the Holy Spirit. There is never a time when everyone is seeking the face of the Lord. This cannot surprise us.
On the other hand, in every age, God’s love and God’s word are present. We are being called to respond to that love and that word. Especially those of us who have professed faith in Jesus Christ must be willing to take up the Cross each day and to follow Him, even when it may mean suffering.
Perhaps we do not do world-shaking actions! That should not surprise us. Yet a small act of love to another person changes the world. The smallest act of faith transforms the whole universe. We don’t have to think huge. We are invited to take even the smallest steps in the direction of this God who loves us. He Himself can transform that littleness. All glory to Him forever.