“Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter in the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:20)
The “Day of the Lord” is at hand! We are in the last two weeks of the liturgical year; the climax is close. We have been urged to be ready, to be alert, to be awake. Our second reading today, from Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, gives us some context for believing the end is near. This is the earliest of all the writings in the New Testament and many people thought Christ would soon come again. Paul is telling his readers, Yes, the Lord will return but we don’t know when. But there is no need for fear. “You, beloved, are not in darkness for that day to surprise you like a thief. You are all children of light and children of the day… So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” Doesn’t this seem like good advice to us who live in a chaotic and violent world?
The first reading, from the Book of Proverbs, is also contains a message of encouragement. It follows from the Book of Wisdom which we heard last Sunday. At first glance, this reading can seem like a patriarchal put-down of women. But this woman is a concrete and visible image of Lady Wisdom who is the power of God who is ever present and active in the world. She is a radiant light, the source of insight, the bringer of peace, the breath of God’s might and the pure emanation of God’s glory. (see Wisdom 7; Proverbs 8, and Sirach 24). Read the selection for today again with this in mind and notice how it speaks to you in a different way. Lady Wisdom is loose in our world and will help us find the right path.
The gospel reading is another parable about the end times. It really shows how parables are not straight-forward moral lessons but riddles and stories that confuse us. And the confusion is quite deliberate. The bottom line is very clear – be ready, be alert, be responsible with the earth’s bounty. But the master is rather vicious and is not a good image of God. The amounts of money being tossed around are enormous. The servants are praised not because they are good investors but because they are willing to take risks and live fully. Get the feel of the story and don’t get lost in the details. I am sure people looked at Jesus with a quizzical look and wondered what he was trying to say. Do you feel that God is doing that with you too? Don’t hide. Don’t be afraid. You are on this earth to learn to give, to try to be of help to others. It is all right to make mistakes.