Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year- Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-31; Ps 128:1-5; 1 Thess 5:1-6 and Matt 25:14-15,19-21.
Sharing our Gifts Is watchfulness for the Lord
With the current down-turn of world economy and global financial market one might be tempted to interpret the gospel parable of the talents just read, in terms of austerity measure. Some may think it is all about how we invest our money. The readings today are pointing at something deeper, something else. Especially as we approach the end of the liturgical season, this week's readings, like the parable of the 10 virgins, point at watchfulness and readiness for the coming of the Son of God. They point to acting responsibly and selflessly. They remind us that we are all gifted people, according to our abilities. We are called to watch for the Lord by making good use of these gifts, sharing them with our neighbors.
Take today’s gospel travelling master to be Jesus, and take the three people gifted with various talents to be each of us. What did the first two do with their talents? Without wasting time or idling around like the 5 foolish virgins of last Sunday’s reading, they worked hard multiplying their talents. What did the third servant do with his talent? He left his given gift hidden in the ground, unproductive. He went about complaining, blaiming others, criticizing even the master, the distributor of the talent, calling him names- horrible, a hard man!.
Like the foolish, unaccountable, unprepared virgins of last week, he fails to grasp the nature of his responsibility. His action represents not only laziness but also lack of love for the master. It represents a disciple who is trying to play safe, a disciple not ready to bear witness to the gospel at all times, not ready to keep watch for the return of the master. He says he was afraid, which is equivalent to faithlessness, lack of readiness and lack of trust in the master, the Lord.
Genuine “fear of the Lord,” of the master according to Psalm 128, rather consists in walking the walk, walking in the ways of the Lord, ways of love, charity and forgiveness, keeping his precepts. It consists in not sleeping but keeping awake in readiness for the day of the Lord (Zeph1:14-18).
says in the Second reading, ‘Let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” for the day of the Lord (1 Thess 5:1-6). St. Paul
I believe there is no better way to challenge ourselves, to re-examine how we have used our various gifts in readiness for the day of the Lord than in imitation of the virtuous and worthy (esith hayil) woman extol in today’s first reading, Book of Proverbs.
This worthy woman like the biblical Ruth, in putting her talents to use, brings her husband good and not evil. What a good use of her talent! She does this all the days of her life. Proverbs says. “She puts her hands to the distaff and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:1-5).
In our various circumstances, be it here in the Seminary, home or our parish communities , we want to appreciate all the gifts we have been gifted with; the gifts of our parents, our family, doctors and nurses, the gifts of our teachers, and mentors- what we have learned from them.
We want to share these gifts with others, including our gift of time. We want to share our gift of music. We want to share our gift of dancing. We want to share our gift artistery. We want to share our gifts of knowledge, listening and counseling abilities. We want to share our gift of being present for one another. Above all, we want to share our gift of love. We want to share our gift of hope. We want to share our gift of faith with people around us. This is not different from watching and waiting for the Lord.