Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year A


William F. Waters, O.S.A.
Church of St. Augustine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 Thes 5:1-6
Mt 25:14-30

Here we go again! Jesus is telling a story (a parable) to his disciples who understand the imagery of an owner of a property giving responsibility to servants while he is away but, as is common, the point Jesus is making isn’t what the disciples would expect.

The story Jesus makes up to get his point across involves the owner going away and entrusting his possessions to three of his servants. While he was away, two of the servants took risks and traded the possessions with which they were entrusted and they made a profit. The 3rd servant protected his by burying it.

At one point, Jesus says they were given possessions. At another point, he refers to them as talents and yet a third time he says it is money. Which is it?

He says the servants were given them according to each one’s ability. What does that mean?

He praises the first two servants by calling them faithful and condemns the third by calling him a wicked, lazy servant. That sounds pretty harsh to me. All he was trying to do was to be careful.

I don’t think it makes any difference if it is possessions, talents or money. It seems Jesus is saying he has shared himself with us and we are not to be passive with which he has entrusted us. God is the source of all that we have and he expects us to make good use of what he shares with us.

What are the possessions Jesus has and which he shares with us? He has knowledge of our heavenly God. That is why he came, to tell us about (reveal) our heavenly God – God’s love, commitment, understanding, forgiveness, etc. What talents does Jesus have? He had the ability to restore our relationship with our creator. What money does Jesus have? Jesus not only has the ability, but he has the means to provide that relationship for us. The currency is his willingness to suffer, die and rise from the dead. He destroyed our death and restored our life.

What is this about our abilities? We all have been given unique gifts from God. We are called to use our time, talents and treasures in our different environments. This is all very specific and different for each of us.

A sad experience I had one time was when I asked a college student what talents or gifts she had. She responded she didn’t think she had any. Sometimes we discover them ourselves. Sometimes others may have to point them out to us.

Jesus has left the earth for awhile and has entrusted us with his possessions and we all have different abilities. What we do with all this is up to us. Jesus does not want us to be afraid of him and perceive him as demanding and harsh. He does want us to be creative, take initiative, take risks and not be passive and complacent. He is telling the disciples (and us) that being a disciple of his involves a great investment and if that happens it will increase dividends.

At the end, he can call us faithful or he can call us wicked and lazy. Oh, another gift we have is free will. How do we use it?