33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle A—2017
FIRST READING 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.
SECOND READING 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 Matthew 25:14-30
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.'”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Today the First Letter to the Thessalonians tells us: “Let us stay alert and sober.” This is a strong message at the end of the Church year and as we think of the end of the world and of our own personal death. We should not fear the end of the world or our own personal death. Most likely the world will not end in our lifetime, but we do not know that. On the other hand, we can be completely confident that we ourselves shall die. True life is always living toward death.
The first reading today comes from the Book of Proverbs, which is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. The selection today tells us the value of a good wife. In reality, the good wife is a model for all of us, women or men. Such a person brings good and blessings to all others, knows how to do things wisely, knows how to work, know how to care for the poor and knows how to care for her husband and her family. One of the points of this reading is that physical beauty can be deceiving and what really counts is beauty of character. The wife in this reading is clearly a person who knows how to use and invest her talents in the realities that will last forever. She know how to live towards death with all that truly matters.
The second reading is from the First Letter to the Thessalonians and addresses directly the end of the world. No one knows what that day will happen. It will come like a thief in the night. On the other hand, we should be prepared each day as though it will happen today. This kind of thinking is not meant to scare us but it is meant to keep us aware that we must be prepared. Just as the wife in the first reading seems always prepared for whatever happens, so also we must be prepared for all that happens. Even at this very moment, death could be coming to me soon—but probably not. It is that “probably not” that allows us to forget death and to live as though death and what is beyond it do not exist.
One of the remarkable aspects of aging is that people come face to face with the reality of death. Some of us struggle in every way possible to stay young and to pretend that we are young. Others of us seem to embrace getting old, sometimes before old age has even come upon us. For most of us, getting older is simply a part of living to be accepted. The point of the reading today is that part of getting older is being prepared to die and to meet the Lord. We need to ask ourselves: “Am I ready to meet the Lord right now?” If I am not, then I had better begin the work to prepare myself!
The Gospel today, from Saint Matthew, tells us about how to live. Each of us has been given a personal life. Each of us has been given gifts and talents and capacities. What do we do with them? Are we truly living? Do we use our lives for others? Do we seek to be faithful to what the Lord asks of us?
Your brother in the Lord,