Sunday Reflection: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 15, 2020

Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - November 15, 2020

“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come share your master’s joy.”

How do we respond to life and love, the gifts and graces God gives us? Today, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year, Jesus, in the middle of his last major discourse in Matthew’s Gospel, offers a parable that challenges his disciples to make prudent and responsible use of the gifts God generously gives to each one of us – guarding them carefully and using them well. Indeed, all the scriptures offered to us today speak about accountability for our actions and accountability for the gifts we have received.

The First Reading from the Book of Proverbs gives praise to the woman who works hard, is mindful of the poor and needy, and fears the Lord. She will reap the fruit of her hands – and the same may be said for men. Saint Paul warns the Thessalonians – and us – that the day of accountability will come like a thief in the night when we least expect it. The parable of the talents in Matthew also points to the Last Judgment, that final assessment of what is true and what is false, and what is generous and what is selfish in our lives.

The scriptures for this day, however, do not simply focus on the Last Judgment or the last day. They also encourage us to make every effort to walk in God’s light right now, sober and alert, and following the ways of the Lord. The master in the Gospel trusted his servants, presenting them with resources according to their ability. Just so, God gives us gifts according to our abilities and vocations. God trusts us to be good stewards of those gifts so that we can continue the work that Jesus gives to us and all his disciples.

Judgment and warning, then, are only part of the message we are given today. The Entrance Antiphon for Mass proclaims, “The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of afflictions. You will call upon me, and I will answer you…” Immediately after Saint Paul speaks about the sudden arrival of the Day of the Lord, he reminds us that we are” children of the light and children of the day.” We are children of a generous, loving, and life-giving God. We are called to be faithful in even the “small matters” of our lives, and, like the good and faithful servants portrayed in the Gospel parable, we are destined to share our Lord and Master’s joy.

All this relies on the grace of God that is manifested and given to us in the person of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ: the grace of forgiveness, the grace of love, the grace of life and light, and the grace of salvation. Grace is a gift that is meant to be received, to be lived, and to be shared. To bury or hide such grace is to refuse the gift and to turn away from the one giving the gift. We will want to keep this in mind as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Christ the King) next weekend. We may want to ask ourselves how we live and share God’s greatest gift to us – and how we are sharing what we have been given with others, especially those in need.

Today, however, we pray that we will continue to be open to and aware of the many gifts and blessings that our God has entrusted to us – even those that we do not realize we possess. We pray that God will continue to fill our hearts with gratitude and transform our hearts in His generous love so that we may not be fearful or hesitant to invest ourselves as servants and disciples of His Son.