33 Ordinary Time A 


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

1 Reading: Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm: Blessed are those who fear the Lord
2 Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
Gospel: Matthew 25: 14-30

We have another sobering parable from the Lord about judgment and accountability. As we come to the end of the Church year, our Gospel readings are parables about preparing to meet the Lord with the story of how we have lived and loved.

Last week, the parable was about the ten bridesmaids: five were prepared for the wedding and five were not. This week, the Gospel is about the “talents” and what three individuals did with them. Next week, the Gospel is about the separation of the sheep and the goats.
The emphasis in all these parables is not so much about the timing of the end of the world. Rather these parables teach us to live in a responsible and faithful manner right now because there is an accounting each of us will have to give personally to the Lord at the end of our time. What did we do with our talents?

In this Sunday’s readings, three individuals are given a different number of talents. Two of them increased what they had. One did nothing with it and was condemned. This parable acknowledges that we are not born equally talented. We are equal in human rights but that does not mean that we are equal in abilities. We have different intellectual abilities and different physical strengths and skills. We are born with different social opportunities and advantages, different genetic inheritances. Like the servants in the Gospel, we are entrusted with different talents.

We often look at people we feel are very “talented,” and compare ourselves to them while minimizing the very real and worthwhile gifts we have. Because we can’t sing a solo like some people, therefore we feel we shouldn’t sing at all. Because we can’t be a professional athlete like some people, therefore why join any team? Instead of using the talents we have, are we always dreaming about the ones we don’t have?

Our talent might not be spectacular, but it is real and important. There are talents like those of the virtuous wife in the book of Proverbs in the first reading who has the skill of raising a family, caring for a spouse, managing a home. To raise a family and keep a family together is a talent desperately needed today.

The Gospel parable goes further. The question posed by the parable is: Are we using our talents and resources in the service of God and of His Church? The man in the Gospel who was given the least was not a bad man. He didn’t steal the money, he didn’t squander it. His only crime was that he buried the money in the ground and did nothing with it for the Master.

Two things that keep us from using our talents are fear and sloth. We talk, we plan, we make resolutions, but our plans never get into fruition. We can live in a spiritual tomorrow that never quite becomes today.

The lesson of the parable is clear. All three individuals in the parable received talents. For two of them, those talents became blessings. For one, it became a judgment. The first two servants were rewarded for their faithfulness, courage and activity. The third servant was judged for his unfaithfulness, cowardice and inactivity. Who is this third servant? Some interpreters say he stands for the Scribes and Pharisees; their emphasis was on preservation rather than spiritual transformation. Our tradition has seen this third servant as potentially being each of us.

We can reflect on our gifts: Whatever the talents and resources we have been given, are we using them in the service of the Lord? The talents we have are gifts. When we use them in the service of the Lord, they become blessings. Life is God’s gift. What we do with our life is our gift to God. As we face our next life, may we hear from God the words,  “Well done, my good and faithful servant” and so enter His glory. Amen.

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cbcp 2 diocese paranaquevatican