Reflections on Scripture for Nov. 19, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 Thes 5:1-6
Mt 25:14-15, 19-21 (alternative)
As we gather around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends, hearts and minds fill with gratitude to God and our loved ones. We may not realize it but in giving thanks to God we are being faithful stewards of the talents and spiritual gifts we receive each day. Faithfulness in small things opens to an abundant harvest of joy and gratitude. This is perhaps what the master in this Sunday's Gospel means 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 -- 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 recognizing and unpacking the blessings of God.
The greatest of God's generous blessings is the gift of his son, Jesus whose life, death, and resurrection reconciles us to friendship with God and with one another.
Taken from the final chapter of Proverbs, the first reading sings the praises of a woman whose faithfulness is a blessing to many. The book of Proverbs highlights the feminine personification of wisdom, so it's appropriate that its final chapter speaks of the practical wisdom of the wife and mother who is praised for her hard work and faith. This exemplary woman is lauded for using her talents for the good of her family and for the needy and the poor in 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, whenever it arrives.
Using our gifts and talents well requires a heart attuned to God's many blessings. Rather than being satisfied with fulfilling religious obligations, God's word challenges us to do more. In the light of the Gospel, we must ask ourselves, "how do I put my gifts and talents, however simple and small, to building up the Body of Christ? Do I step out in faith 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 expressions of real thanksgiving be a sign of our faithfulness as missionary disciples of Jesus who pray, "speak to me, Lord."
Question: How does this parable of Jesus challenge you to share your talents with others?