[Reflection on The Word] Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31/Psalm 128/ 1 Thess 5:1-6/ Matt. 25:14-30
Theme: In Using Our Gifts, God Multiplies Them
When the bridegroom comes, can he find us a faithful wife? Last week’s gospel reading reminded us about the coming of the bridegroom and called on us to go welcome him. However, we were not told who the bride was.
The first reading of today metaphorically presents to us the bride whom the writer of the book of Proverbs calls “A PERFECT WIFE?” The writer is aware of the qualities of a perfect wife and he spells them out vividly. The Church is that perfect bride by virtue of the fact that Jesus died for her. The Lord expects to come back and see her bride ready and as spotless as possible.
As the Liturgical year comes to a close, can Jesus say to us his bride (The Church), “A perfect wife, who can find?” How faithful have we been to our husband, Jesus?
It is only those who bear the imprint of a perfect wife who will be rewarded with salvation. Paul, in the second reading, used this image to warn believers not to be caught napping. Since we do not know when the Lord will return for his people, we must live in a constant attitude of watching and waiting, while we are busy working and witnessing.
Paul emphasises that as believers, we know that the Lord is surely coming while unbelievers are living in constant ignorance of God’s plan. Are you a believer, yet living in constant ignorance of God’s plan? Then you are sure that that day will catch you like a thief. Staying awake means fulfilling our Christian obligation spelt out in the first reading namely support for the people, promoting justice and caring for the needy. This is the perfect wife Christ expects to find at his second coming.
The Gospel reading is a reminder to us all that God recognises our unique capabilities. As a good shepherd, he recognises our unique talents and abilities. Therefore, no one has any excuse whatsoever as far as his own contribution to his salvation is concerned.
We are reminded that the time for our accountability is imminent. The talent has been used metaphorically to represent our unique roles in building the body of Christ. It must be emphasised that everybody has a spot to do good.
It is obvious from the response of the master to the servants when they rendered their accounts that God does not burden us or allow us to be burdened beyond what we can bear. He gives us responsibilities taking cognizance of our human limitations yet he expects results from us. The Gospel writer puts it succinctly “Well done good and faithful servant, you have shown that you can be faithful in small things, I will entrust you with greater…” (Matthew 25:21).
It is the ordinary acts of love that will win us something great namely Heaven which is not a meritorious gift but a gratuitous one. The Catholic Hymn says it all
“Yes Heaven is the prize
my soul shall strive to gain,
one glimpse of paradise repays a life of pain” ( Hymn 212).
The attitude of the third servant leaves much to be desired. The lesson for us is that he who cannot fulfill his duties while on earth cannot as well fulfill his heavenly duty. Our life in heaven is already being measured by our life on earth. If heaven is the prize, then no risk is too much to attain it.
Who are we that God should entrust his property to us? “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak in the world to shame the strong” (1Corinthians 1:26-27). This is the human being God has dignified.
There is an element of surprise in today’s parable. From the beginning of today’s parable, we are told that the master gave each slave a certain amount of money as a pure gift. The master demonstrated a gratuitous generosity. The third slave pigeonholed his master and simply could not fathom that the master was being so generous. The slave seems to be basing his actions on some kind of strict or literal justice that enables him to justify his own miserly actions. In the end, the third slave loses everything.
The bridegroom expects of his bride the following virtues namely: her worth must be beyond pearls, she must be industrious, caring for the poor and needy, confident in her husband, and wise. Heaven is worth sacrificing your entire life for.
In sum, when we apply the concept of generosity to God and Jesus, a lesson emerges for us. When we truly understand and appreciate the greatness of God’s gift to us in his Son Jesus, we experience a special freedom and gratitude, and we are willing to take risks. To do God’s will becomes an enterprising, risk-taking adventure, based on God’s gratuitous generosity, justice, mercy and boundless trust in human beings. Today’s parable emphasizes actions and enterprise, and helps us to prepare the way for the great works of mercy and justice in the final judgment scene as presented to us next Sunday where Jesus will ask us whether we have put the beatitudes into action.
Source: Rev. Fr. Aaron Agorsor
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