First Reading – Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31, Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 128
Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, Gospel – Matthew 25:14-30
The readings for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time are a call to work for the Kingdom of God using the gifts we have been given. The first reading sings the praises of a good wife who is invaluable, trusted by her husband and doing good all her life. The psalm says that those who follow the Lord are blessed. The second reading reminds us that we are children of light and goodness. And being children of the light, we should not be caught off guard but instead stay alert and sober for the day of the Lord will arrive unexpectedly. In the gospel Jesus tells the parable of the talents and praises the servants who used their resources wisely. In the parable, a man goes on a journey and entrusts his servants with different amounts of money. Two servants invest and double their money. On his return, the master praises these servants and gives them more responsibility. The third servant hides his money and is chastised for his inaction, losing even what he had.
The parable highlights the need for proactive stewardship of gifts and resources and warns against inaction, passivity and indifference. The servants who invested their talents are called “faithful”. The lazy servant is called “wicked”. Lazy servants are afraid of taking risks. Because of the fear to take risks, they bury their abilities. When we were baptized, we all received gifts from the Holy Spirit to build the Kingdom of God.
As missionary disciples, we cannot be content with just attending Sunday masses and fail to witness to our faith in the world. Jesus gave the Church the gift of prophecy. The laity act prophetically when they speak the truth and live the Gospel by example before their families, neighbors, and co-workers. Their mission is “accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 905). Christians who are afraid or are lazy to witness to the Gospel and to proclaim the gospel are the lazy servants. Lazy servants never go beyond the boundaries because they are afraid of taking risks. They are content with being Sunday Christians, being given rules and simply following them. Faithful servants witness publicly to a Kingdom of peace, justice and love fail in their God given talent. The shepherds who are content with presiding over liturgy, doing administrative work and ignore the plight of the poor and oppressed bury their prophetic voice.
Christian discipleship demands that we take risks in order to grow. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus and not want to dirty their hands. Passivity and indifference are not fruitful. We are called on to step out of our comforts zones. A true disciple does more than following rules and trying by all means to avoid mistakes. Africa is riddled with so many ills because of many mediocre Christians who are passive, who refuse to get involved in people’s problems, not fighting for their rights, not fighting to heal the many people who are in need. Let us remember that we are all going to be held accountable for how we have used our talents.
Let us turn to Mary, model of the Church, model of a diligent and faithful disciple who shines forth to the whole community of Christian disciples.