November 19, 2023 — Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
PRV 31:10-13, 19-20, 30–31; PS 128:2-5; 1 THES 5:1-6; MT 25:14-30
Today’s readings challenge us to live not for the “here and now,” but rather with eternity in mind. We are reminded that we will be called one day to give an account for the gifts God has given us — our physical, intellectual and material gifts — as well as the gift of time itself. We must examine our lives to determine whether we are making the best use of our gifts with the time we have been given to use them.
St. Paul gives us a wonderful lens through which to do this type of self-examination, in our Second Reading from 1 Thessalonians. He reminds us of our true identity as disciples of Christ. “All of you are… 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.” We are to live in a way that is counter to the prevailing wisdom, living not for ourselves and for the pleasure of immediate gratification, but rather to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus illustrates this Kingdom-oriented way of living in our Gospel passage from Matthew. He tells the parable of a wealthy man who is about to go on a journey. Before he leaves, the man calls his three servants to “entrust his possessions to them.” This should sound familiar. As Christian stewards, we know that all the gifts we have been given are, in truth, the possessions of our Heavenly Father, who has entrusted them to us for our good and His glory.
The master in our parable gives to the care of each servant a portion of his money (“talent”) commensurate with that servant’s abilities. He then goes off and we learn what those three servants do with the talents they have been given. The first two prove to be good and faithful servants — they “immediately” put the talents to use, doubling what had been entrusted to them. The third servant reacted to this responsibility with fear. He did not make an effort to use the talent entrusted him. In fact, he did the opposite — he hid the master’s talent, burying it in the ground. He took the safe way, the easy way out.
What a tragic response!
This servant did not understand his master at all. He failed to see what a privilege he had been given, what an opportunity he had squandered. The master wanted to give all his servants the joy and satisfaction of helping him grow his kingdom. This is what our Heavenly Father wants for us, too — the incredible privilege of helping to advance the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Let us embrace the stewardship way of life, using all the gifts entrusted to us — Time, Talent, and Treasure — in such a way that at the end of our life on this earth, we will hear these words from our Father: “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy.”