Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
With this Sunday, the end is nigh. We have been commemorating the faithful departed all this month, those who have brought about the Kingdom of God in small and imperfect ways in anticipation of the perfect coming of the Kingdom at the Second Coming. We have had ample opportunity in November to think upon one of the four last things, death. As we come to the final two weeks of the liturgical year, the readings spur us to think about the other three: judgment, Heaven, and Hell.
In the second reading, Paul encourages his listeners to be mindful of the coming of Jesus, which will come “like a thief in the night.” The parable that Jesus tells us in today’s gospel likewise encourages vigilance. In the Parable of the Talents, the servant who does nothing to increase the master’s wealth isn’t simply called lazy, but wicked. The servant did not just neglect the money, but put forth effort to bury it in the ground. The master went on a journey, to return at an unspecified time. When the master returned at an unexpected time, he treated the servant accordingly.
God’s judgment is demanding, but not unjust. The servants who cooperated with the master were both rewarded, even though one had made less money than the other. We have been given many gifts from God to cooperate with Him. Some are given much materially, and all of us have access to God’s unmerited grace, especially through the sacraments. Do we try and make use of these gifts of grace, or do we actively try and avoid them? At an unspecified time, God will return to demand an account of what we have been given. We should take the opportunity and reflect on our lives and how we may improve in using our gifts to avoid the fate of the lazy and wicked servant upon the master’s return.