By Mary Flick, CSJ
As we near the end of the liturgical year, the Church gives us end-time readings, parables and stories which leave us pondering where, who, how we will be in our own end time. The first reading gives us an image of the Ideal Wife, who faithfully serves her husband, children and community through her resourcefulness and hard work. The image of this woman closes the Book of Proverbs, and epitomizes the wealth and wisdom of Israel’s wisest teachers recorded in the book. She is presented as a model to be emulated by all the faithful.
In today’s gospel, we meet three servants, each deemed trustworthy by the master, and given years’ worth of earnings to care for during his absence. When he returns, they are held accountable for what they have received. The two who are resourceful have chosen to invest their master’s wealth and double their investment and reward. But the one whose choices were made out of fear and insecurity loses not only the master’s reward, but the master’s trust, too.
The servants are judged by the choices they’ve made in using the gifts given them and whether they have reached their fullest potential. We, too, will be judged by our faithfulness in fulfilling what we have been called to do with our gifts. More than financial dividends, our greater reward is found in the joy we experience with a job well done and a life well lived. Our joy is but a hint of the unending joy we will know with God.
Wise persons – like the Ideal Wife and the first two servants – accept what life gives, work with it, strive to make it better, and share the fruit of their labors. It’s the way of wisdom we follow when we choose to be trustworthy and realize the joy of a life well lived. In the end, our joy and God’s are one.
Paul makes it clear: we do not know when the end time will come. Often it comes suddenly, “like a thief at night.” Natural disaster, illness, loss of job, death – the end strikes without warning. Be prepared, Paul instructs. Be faithful to who you are. You are “children of the light” –entrusted with God’s immeasurable gifts of life. Our challenge is to live in and from that trust.
How do the needs of the world, the needs of our dear neighbors, calling me to use my gifts?