Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128: 1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6; Matthew 25: 14-30

First Reading: The proverbs reading is grounded in words of wisdom. The image we are given of a worthy wife and mother is immersed in this metaphor about wisdom and living in fear of the Lord. Not fear as one who is frightened or paralyzed, but the wisdom of one who lives in awe of the wondrous power and majesty of God — the God who offers that love to us.

Psalm 128: Psalm 128 extols the virtues of the worthy husband. He, too, is one who fears the Lord and observes all his commands. Accordingly, he and all his family shall be blessed.

Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Paul reminds believers that they do not know when Christ will come again. It happens as stealthily as a thief in the night, or as quickly as labor pains. God does not threaten, but rather invites us to be ready to walk in the Lord’s ways as we heard in the psalm.

Gospel: The parable in today’s Gospel calls us to examine ourselves in light of the behaviors of the three servants. We will all be called to account on the day of judgment. Is there anything we want to change now?

Reflection: We all know what money is, as long as we don’t think about it too much. After all, most people get a salary that they earn by putting in time on a job. It is possible to divide those earnings by the time put in, and come up with an hourly rate. But for the most part, money is intangible. There is no concrete item (gold, diamonds, and even manufactured goods) that equals the value of all the money in the world. Our IRAs, 401(k)s, and pension funds earn money without making/mining/producing anything. Money is created, and those who have it are very happy about it.

We could read today’s Gospel parable as an endorsement by Jesus of investment banking. But that’s not really what the story is about. This week’s Gospel is a story about what the community must do while its members await the return of the Lord. Last week’s story encouraged Christians to be prepared because we don’t know when the Lord will come back. This week’s parable highlights the nature of that waiting. Christians don’t just sit around waiting for Jesus to come back. Rather, we use the gifts and talents that are ours to transform the world.

But unlike the creation of money by those who develop complicated investment schemes and high-risk financial products, the Christian invests in the world using the gifts and talents given to him or her by the Master. This perspective is fundamentally different from that of investment banking. Rather than seeking the greatest return for oneself, a Christian understands that everything is gift from the Creator. He or she then proceeds to use what has been given to further the development of humankind. Fifty years ago, Pope John XXIII issued his great encyclical Mater et Magistra on Christianity and social progress. In it he insisted that our task is “to humanize and to Christianize this modern civilization of ours.” That is indeed a worthy investment!

Question for Reflection: What possession has God entrusted to me to share in my discipleship?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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