33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – 15 November 2020
Bible Readings: I. Proverbs 31:10-31; Responsorial: Psalm 128; II: I Thessalonians 5:1-6; Gospel: Matthew 25:1–30
The Church year is drawing to a close with these most Unordinary of times. We are two weeks away from a new year of our faith with the start of Advent. The Holy Spirit seeks to lift weary hearts and minds from the challenges of the year and to focus upon our Hope, our Savior, our coming King of Kings. So today our readings share an urgent question: What are we doing with all our Lord and Savior has given us. The Gospel shares the familiar parable of the Talents. While it is important to take stock of those talents God has given it is even more essential to look to The King. For it is Jesus who is Lord. Not our talents, not the trials and struggles of life, not our fears or selfish ambitions. Not our self.
We know not what lies ahead in our lives. We don’t know what is ahead around the bends of life. What we can know, as we trust God and His Word, is that Christ, the King of Kings is coming. And we can know, heeding the message from the Gospel today, is that we are called to serve our Lord with all with which we are so graced. Many and abundant are the talents, the graces, the gifts which we have. And it is clear when Christ comes He expects us the be faithful and fruitful with our lives. But what, precisely, is it the Jesus expects to be enriched and growing in us upon His return? To explore the question and answers let’s explore the coming of our King.
For the faithful Christian the foremost understanding of the coming of Christ is the eschatological or second coming of Jesus. While this Truth is very clear and certain it is also shrouded in mystery. We must be very cautious of those who would seek to attach timeframes, flowcharts, or strict outlines of the how and when our Lord returns. God alone knows. And for very good reason. God wants us ready for His return. And as Jesus said in the Gospel “When the son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This facet of the coming King illustrates a talent of immense importance that Jesus will want in us upon His coming. Faith, alive and growing in our hearts, our words, our actions. When Jesus comes in all His glory how, where will He find us? Will He greet us, perhaps in our trials, but trusting and reaching out to Him? Or will our faith be a tangle of beliefs in the Gospel (bits and pieces). In politics? In our understanding more than our faith? Or our fears? Jesus longs, more than we know, for His servants to be people of faith in God. He longs for that faith to be strong amidst the trials, disappointments, hopes and dreams we encounter on the trail which He calls us to share with Him. When Jesus comes will we be carrying hearts filled with peace and joy for His forgiveness or dark heavy burdens of guilt in which we have hidden our faith? But it is not just at the return of our Lord that we will be called to share an accounting of our life, of the graces He has given.
Another (and inevitable, should Christ tarry) place we will meet the King of Kings is when we cross the threshold into eternity. Or, more clearly, when our body dies. It is no accident as Jesus sought to prepare His followers for His passion that He gathered them for that holy meal and washed their feet. It is normal that we place this sacred event on Holy Thursday of Holy Week. But it is just as relevant in this time of expectation for the King of Kings. Jesus commanded as He was serving, so must we. What will our Lord be seeking in us when we stand before Him? He will be seeking Faith resulting in His love while we lived in service of God and others. Today, more than ever, the church has become fraught with attitudes of “them vs. us”. The judgement of those deemed unworthy to come to the table of God is, for some, proudly fierce. We love, not our neighbor, but those who mirror our selves in worship, understanding, in life. If, God forbid, someone dares to not meet our standards we quickly deem them unworthy of the graces of God. The same graces given so freely and abundant to each of us.
God brings us to meet, on the trails of life, those we need. Jesus spoke of, before His Passion about serving Him before His return, our serving the imprisoned, sick, naked, those without hope. He said when we serve them we are serving Him. As we cross into eternity we will meet our Lord. And we will be amazed, perhaps troubled, when He explains that dirty, homeless woman with mental illness we called the cops on, that was Jesus. Perhaps all she wanted was a simple smile of caring, an encouraging word. Christ may show us that young man encountered, with reluctance, in the store, a man of apparent “disordered orientation” was also a young man seeking to serve and follow God with the graces “given according to his abilities.” As we encounter Christ the King in our life may we remember we are encountering Him, often in disguise. May we, with the graces of hope and mercy respond to Him. And lift others, and ourselves to grow in His grace.
What are the treasures of our life today? They tell us what talents we will bring to God as we meet our eternal King. Is there faith? Hope? Love? Or are our talents buried in dark holes of fear and doubt, or worry? Our world, this year has been drenched in much suffering and strife. We are graced and called to serve our King in the midst of these trials. As we reflect upon this parable of the talents may we realize ever more fervently we are servants of the King and are called to share His graces of faith, hope peace and love that surpass any trial or conflict.