Readings: Pro 31:10-13,19-20,30-31; 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Matt. 25:14-30
Investing our talents, taking risks, commitments, and accountability are some of the phrases that help us to focus on the message of the readings this Sunday. The readings highlight fidelity to our commitments. Whether we speak of Baptism, a career, marriage, priestly or religious life, once we have made a commitment, we remain accountable. We have an obligation to faithfulness and growth in the life we assume. Fidelity to one’s commitment is illustrated in terms of wisdom personified as the perfect wife and mother in the first reading from the Book of Proverbs. The woman of worth mentioned here is the personification of Lady Wisdom, who in her ordinary ways performs with skill, integrity and commitment. For her no chore is routine when performed with wisdom. Every event becomes an opportunity to encounter the living God. Lady Wisdom serves her husband because “he has entrusted his heart to her”. She makes use of her skills as well as being mindful and generous to the poor and needy. She is praised, not because of her beauty or charm, but because of what she does, something that we can all imitate. In the second reading, Paul once again deals with the question of the second coming, which had become a daily preoccupation in Thessaloniki. Paul’s intention this time is to comfort the fears of those who dreaded the Day of the Lord by reminding them that they were already living in the last days; they were living in the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. He reminds them and us that the Lord’s second coming must not be an excuse for doing nothing under the pretext of waiting. We must continue working for the kingdom while waiting for the Lord.
These last Sundays in the liturgical year purposely focus our attention on the end of time, final judgment and Christ’s second coming. The parable of the talents in the Gospel at first seems to underline fidelity and faithfulness. The two good and faithful servants are praised for taking a risk to invest wisely the money given them. The parable however goes on to underline the final judgment, when we will each be called to render an account of how we used or did not use the gifts God has given us. We will be called by the Lord to give an account of how we have made use of the grace, the talents, and the opportunities given us, to deepen our relationship with the Lord. The parable reminds us that there are those who use their time on earth wisely and invest their gifts and opportunities in spiritual growth. But there are also those who, like the person in the Gospel, do nothing with their gifts and talents. Let us focus for a moment on this last person. What exactly happened? Why did he choose to do nothing with his talent? In his own words he says, "I was afraid" of being punished by the hard master in the end. It was fear that led him not to do anything except foolishly hide the talent in the ground until the master returned. Fear could prevent us from making a step towards the Lord, towards a change of heart and conversion, keeping us away from multiplying the gifts given us by the Lord. None of us would want to wind up before Jesus like this fellow! What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings call us to be faithful to our commitments. That call is illustrated in terms of wisdom personified as the perfect wife and mother in the first reading from the Book of Proverbs. 2) Paul underlines that same message by urging us to live our baptismal commitment as children of the light and of the day by staying alert and ready. 3) The Gospel exhorts us to take risks, to be more creative and bold in using our gifts and resources God has given us.
©2017John S. Mbinda