FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 | Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 | 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 | Matthew 25:14-30
The Lord has entrusted lots of things to us: financial stability, expert skills, spiritual gifts, intelligence funds, and even confidential funds. He expects us not just to conserve these things but to grow them. This is at the heart of Jesus’ message for all of us this week.
Ruben, a farmer had a complaining wife, Daleng. From morning till night she would complain about something or the other. The only time he got relief was when he went to the farm with his carabao. One day as Ruben was plowing, Daleng began her complaining. All of a sudden the carabao went wild, got loose, charged her, and killed her on the spot. At the funeral, Fr. Renato, the pastor, noticed something unusual. When the townswomen would come, the farmer would listen for a minute, nod his head in agreement, but when barrio men approached him, he would listen for a minute and shook his head in disagreement. This was so consistent that Fr. Renato decided to ask him about it. After the burial the pastor asked him as to why he nodded his head in agreement to the women but always shook his head in disagreement with all men. The farmer said, "The townswomen would come up and says something nice about my wife — how she cooked, how good she was and so on. I’d nod my head in agreement." "And what about the men?" the pastor asked. "The barrio men knew that the carabao killed my wife and all they wanted to know was if my carabao was for sale."
The First Reading from Proverbs is a picture of a gracious wife and mother who practices love for both God and neighbor. A virtuous woman uses her talents. She chooses her wool and flax. This means that she examines and chooses the best material for her crafts. She uses her talents to make clothing and belts. She then sells what she makes as a source of income. And in the end, a good wife is well rewarded. She is rewarded with honor, joy, excellence, praise, and fruit. This description of a virtuous woman illustrates how the life of “fearing of the Lord”, should be led — by fulfilling one’s duties.
Fr Romerico and Pastor Joselito are standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" They planned to hold up the sign to each passing car. "Leave us alone you religious fanatics!" yelled the first driver as he sped by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash. "Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says 'Bridge Out' instead?"
The day of the Lord is coming. In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul warns that Christ's coming will be very sudden and so take many by surprise — like a thief who breaks down the door. But Paul also says that Christians should be so alert that Christ's coming wouldn't surprise them. What matters isn’t the time or the season of Jesus' return, but what the Lord finds us doing with the new life, the graces He has given to us. If we wait, watch, work, witness, and worship, we will meet our Lord with great expectation. We will be filled with joy as we look forward to that great event.
A story was told about Merjohn, a concert violinist whose brother Merjoseph was a carpenter. One day, a woman began gushing to the Merjoseph about how wonderful it was to be in the family of that violinist. Not wanting to insult the carpenter, she added, “Of course, we don’t all have the same talents, and even in a family some just seem to have more talent than others.” The carpenter replied, “Boy, you’re telling me! That violinist brother of mine doesn’t know a thing about laying bricks. If he couldn’t make some money playing that fiddle of his, he couldn’t hire a guy with know-how like mine to build a house. If he had to build a house himself, he’d be ruined.”
In our Gospel, Jesus tells a story of three servants who are entrusted with funds in varying quantities in proportion to their abilities — five, two, and one. A talent is 33 kilograms. In today’s gold prices, that is worth about ₱96,506,388. Clearly the master was quite well-off and he entrusted a large amount to each of his servants. The first servant invested everything to yield another five. The one with two talents doubled the sum. A third, given one talent, dug a hole and buried it. When the master returned, he rewarded those who doubled their resources, commending their trustworthiness: “Come, share your master's joy.” The master gives different amounts to different servants. While each one of us has equal value in God’s sight, this does not mean that he gives to every person the same. To each servant the Lord has distributed one or more talents, according to his ability. God certainly has the ability to create a bunch of clones, but he didn’t do things that way. No two of us are exactly alike. If you want to build a house, you don’t want a violinist. If you’re going to lead an orchestra, you don’t want a carpenter. None of us has every gift and ability. Our responsibility is to exercise the gifts we have — not the ones we wish we had. Jesus expects us to be wise in the use of his gifts. People who are wise in business invest their money where it earns more. We think about that when we're to put money in a bank, cryptocurrency or stock market, as we find out which one pays more interest. The entire judgment of history and of each individual is based on how well we made use of the financial stability, expert skills, spiritual gifts, intelligence funds, and even confidential funds to build His Kingdom. We are either trading with it or burying our talents in the ground. The question for us is: How much has God been served by the way we spent our lives?
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum