Nov. 13, 2011 — Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
These are words we all hope to hear at the end of our earthly life, and today’s Gospel gives us great insight into what is expected of us, and what we ought to do, if we want to be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.
We are journeying through this life in our Master’s vineyard with our Master’s fortune. He has given each of us a share in His goodness, entrusting each of us with many gifts. And while we await the return of our Lord and Master, we are called to use those gifts — our time, our talents and our treasure — in such a way that they bring him glory.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable of a master who leaves on a journey, and entrusts three of his servants with his money while he’s gone. When he returns to find that two servants have wisely invested his money, he is very pleased and offers them a greater share in his riches. The one servant who did nothing with what he’d been given is thrown outside “where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” He is punished in an extreme way.
This is clearly another parable about the Parousia (the second coming of the Lord at the end of time). The Lord has entrusted us with much here and now, and when He returns, or when we are brought to Him upon our death, He expects that we will have used what He has given us wisely.
All that we have — our time, our talents, and our treasure — comes by way of gift from Him. And so, we are to care for it as such – to recognize it as gift and to use it for His greater glory. What each of us has been given is different, just like the three servants in today’s Gospel, so He does not expect us to “measure up” to our neighbor, per se. Rather, He expects us to use our gifts to the best of our ability in His service — to take care of our responsibilities (ourselves and our families) and then to reach out in service to others (at the parish level and beyond).
In the first reading, the writer highlights the greatness of a worthy wife. She is one who brings good to her husband who has entrusted his heart to her. She puts her hands to distaff (a word used to refer to a woman’s work), and her fingers ply the spindle. She extends her arms to the poor. She is one who uses what she has been given selflessly for others. And, ultimately, she is one who fears the Lord, who lives to give Him glory.
In this, the message of the first reading and the message of the Gospel go hand-in-hand. The message of the two is one and the same — those who use what they have been given selflessly are greatly rewarded.
God has given us so very much. All good things come from Him. Every minute we have on this earth, every talent we enjoy, and every penny we earn, even the very fact that we have life — it is all gift from Him. We are entrusted with them, and He expects us to use them wisely, to build the kingdom, to serve Him by serving others and, in turn, to bring many more people closer to Him.
When we live our life in such a way, we will rejoice with the Lord at the end, knowing that we did our best, and He will, like the master in today’s Gospel, give us an even greater share in his riches. He will welcome us into eternal life, proclaiming, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.”