33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

33A.   Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31.  As the master in the Gospel readings entrusted his possessions to his servants, likewise the husband entrusts his heart to his wife.  She does not let him down, for “she brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.”  It is her heart that moves her hands to the good of her husband, the poor and the needy and not her charm or beauty that give useful service all the years of her life.  “The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  This is not the fear that is crippling and trembling but the Old Testament fear that respects God as the God over us to be glorified and obeyed in all that we are and do.

Matthew 25:14-30.  In this parable the master entrusts his possessions to his servants to each in proportion “according to his ability.”  When the master came back, he settled accounts with them.  The first two servants doubled their master’s possessions but the third simply returned the master’s possessions without any increase, since he had done nothing.  To the first two the master said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Then he rewards them with even greater responsibilities, saying, “Come, share your master’s joy.”  However, to the third he says, “You wicked, lazy servant!” and orders him to be thrown into the darkness outside, calling him a useless servant.  Those who show themselves to be responsible with the master’s possessions will be rewarded greatly but those who are not, shall be punished severely.  St. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:10): “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”  Clearly the master that Jesus is referring to in this parable is himself.  Some say that the possessions or talents that Jesus is referring to are our various abilities.  I think Jesus is referring to the graces he gives us to make ourselves and the world around us better, thus giving him glory and building his kingdom.  His graces are a share in his infinite power with us to enable us to do his will here on earth.  As it says in the Our Father prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  To refuse to respond affirmatively to God’s graces to better ourselves and the world around us is to put everything into the devil’s hands to deal destructively with us and the world around us.  Evil is defined by our refusal to use God’s graces, i.e. to respond to God’s intervention within us to move us in the direction he wants us to go, and thus we are an unresponsive, irresponsible people.  In the Nicene Creed we say every Sunday, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  Jesus will simply read back to us our lives.  That will be our testament either to our eternal salvation or destruction.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6.  Paul writes, “For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.”  The ‘day of the Lord’ is an expression that meant the Second Coming of Jesus that was to be the end of the universe and the final judgment day for all.  Paul goes on to criticize the attitude that says ‘Peace and security,’ that is there is nothing to be worried about.  All is well and we do not have to be responsible to any God.  We have everything under our control. But Paul writes, “therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober,” be ready and not caught irresponsibly unprepared as useless servants.