The 33rd Sunday of the Year
Prov 31:10-13 & 19-20; 1 Thess 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30 (Year A)
‘You will not be expecting us to write anything to you about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in
St Paul wrote these words to a Thessalonian community that had confidently expected the triumphant return of their Risen Lord within their own lifetime. At his return the nations would be gathered before the judgment of the Father. Paul’s prediction that the Day of the Lord might come like “a thief in the night” suggests that already a readiness to face this judgment had lost something of its urgency.
As the Church’s liturgical year approaches its conclusion with the feast of Christ the King, we are reminded that we should live each day of our lives as the children of God. Only thus shall we be always ready to greet the Lord at his coming, whether death comes unexpectedly or at the end of a long life.
The Book of Proverbs, in its description of the perfect wife, describes such a person. The structures of modern society, with a deepened understanding of equality between man and woman, will struggle with this passage. Its message for us is not to be found in the patriarchal system that it presumes, but in the virtue of the woman described. Her every moment was lived not for herself alone, but for those around her. She laboured for her household, but reached beyond it, giving a hand to the poor and opening her arms to the needy. Such a life is the calling of every Christian, be they male or female.
The Parable of the Talents turns more immediately to the judgment that we, like the servants on the return of their Lord, must face. Our reading of the parable should concentrate first of all on the generosity of the master to his servants. He owed them nothing, and yet he entrusted to them a share of his wealth. As sinners we have forfeited the Father’s love, and yet he has entrusted to us something beyond wealth: his beloved Son. It is in him, if we so choose, that we live and move and have our being.
Whatever our natural talents, we cannot doubt that already, through baptism, we are the children of the Father. The servants in the parable were not judged on what they had achieved, but on their willingness to respond to their master’s generosity. Our judgment will not be a competition of the graces received, but an examination of our willingness to live out what we have become in Christ. We are children of the light, enabled to walk in the light. For those who choose so to do, judgment can never come as a thief in the night.
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