“Investing for the kingdom of God”
(Fr Regie, MSP)
Our scripture readings for this Sunday remind us of Jesus’ allusion to “the end times,” “of the coming of the Lord.” The liturgy of the Church gives us a gentle reminder of the reality of death and eternity and the need to be prepared when it comes. The Church is like a concerned mother who inspires, encourages, and helps us focus on our ultimate destiny. We have only one life, there’s only a single journey so we cannot take it for granted especially that the “end times” comes as a surprise to us. Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:1-6; second reading) warns us that we do not know the specific time of the Lord’s return, but we know that he will come again. These are what we call in our faith, “the last things.” Whether we acknowledge it or not, death confronts us of the reality of our finiteness and so the immortality that we may long for ultimately belongs to the realm of God.
Jesus gives us the parable of the talents to illustrate our calling to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings God has entrusted to us. We see the pattern in the story of the three servants, God entrusting the talent, their responses, and also being made accountable at the end. In reference to the “end-times,” whether the reality of death or the second coming of the Jesus Christ, the parable intimates the teaching of Jesus about the final judgement and our accountability before God. The first two servants gained the praise of their master since they wisely invest what they were given, but the third one, out of fear, buried the gift and so did not gain anything at all. The parable alludes not just the material blessings we have, the focus is not “to gain the whole world, and lose ourselves along the way.” There’s so much riches God has entrusted to us, our capacity to love and care, knowledge and intelligence, the strength to serve others.
All these gifts are exemplified by the image of a good wife in our first reading (Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-310) and draws us to reflect our own responses to God. Her work is not a burden to her, and she gives herself totally to what her hands are doing. She is industrious, and this virtue is extended not only to her husband and family, but through the works of charity. “She reaches out her hands to the poor and extend her arms to the needy.” The wisdom we find in the Book of Proverbs reminds us that beauty is beyond physical. “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” What she does ultimately speaks of her reverence to God. This is what Saint Paul regarded as living in the light when one is consistently doing what is good even if no one is watching. This is a way of being always prepared and waiting for the coming of the Lord.
We probably dream of a better place to live or a better world where there is harmony and peace. This is what God wanted anyhow, but we need to look into ourselves and know what God has given us and what can we contribute to make this happen. We are all equipped for service, we have the capacity to share our gifts and talents for the good of others if we want to. The image of the third servant speaks to our narrow and self-centred attitude that makes us not ready for the Lord’s return. May we allow the grace of God to help us look beyond for eternity and invest our gifts for the building up of the kingdom of God in the here and now.