Nov. 19, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A readings
1) Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
2) 1 Thes 5:1-6
Gospel: Mt 25:14-30
By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service
We give thanks to God by being faithful stewards of the natural talents and spiritual gifts we receive. This is perhaps what the master in this Sunday’s Gospel meant to convey at the close of the parable when he says, “Come, share your master’s joy” because “you were faithful in small matters.”
No two people in our circle of relationships in family, friends or community have the same talents. In creating us out of love, God lavishes on each of us particular blessings — natural talents and spiritual gifts.
And while Thanksgiving is a perfect time to recall God’s blessings, the whole of the Christian spiritual life is a journey of unpacking the blessings of God. The greatest of God’s blessings is the gift of his son Jesus, whose life, death and resurrection reconcile us to friendship with God.
Taken from the final chapter of Proverbs, the first reading sings the praises of a woman whose faithfulness is a blessing to many. Since the entire book of Proverbs stresses the feminine personification of wisdom, it is only appropriate that its final chapter highlights the practical wisdom of this wife and mother.
When read in light of the entire chapter, the woman is praised for employing her gifts and talents, for the good of her family and for the needy and poorest members of her community. Her faithfulness in small matters is a model for those striving to live as children of God.
Being faithful to God in small matters makes us children of light and frees us from fear of the present or future. This is the assurance that St. Paul gives the Thessalonians in the second reading.
The imminent expectation of the end of the world and the second coming of Christ was on everyone’s mind in the Thessalonian community with fearful speculations about Jesus’ return in glory. The “day of the Lord” referred to this final period of history.
St. Paul insists that speculation of this kind is a waste of time. Christ’s return will be unexpected and sudden. And Christians who strive to live upright and faithful lives with hearts of gratitude have nothing to fear on the day of the Lord.
Using well our gifts and talents requires a heart attuned to God’s many blessings. Instead of being satisfied with fulfilling religious obligations, God’s word challenges us to do more.
How can I put my gifts and talents, however simple and small, to build up the body of Christ? Am I willing to venture out to serve others with the gifts God has given me? Am I willing to risk the indifference of others and even rejection for the sake of God’s kingdom?
As we pause to give thanks to God for blessings great and small, may our thanksgiving be a sign of our faithfulness as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ who humbly say in faith, “speak to me, Lord.”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever” (Ps 118:29).
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Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.