33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Prv. 31:10–13,19–20,30–31

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Second reading: 1 Th. 5:1–6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.

Gospel: Mt. 25:14–30

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘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.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘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.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”

In other words

by Fr. Dennis B. Testado, SVD (Catholic Trade Center, Manila)

Any business enterprise is profit-oriented. It wants a return of investment, even much more than what it puts in: Dapat may kita, dapat may tubo (there should always be a gain).

Today’s Gospel can be viewed through a lens of profit and return on investment. This lens can mean two things. One is a condition set by the word IF—if we have enough money. Another is something that we truly have. As recounted, the servants were entrusted with certain resources to which (other commentaries claim) they were expected to invest and use wisely for a greater yield.

If we have enough money, growing it over time is an important part of managing our household finances. The same is true in our respective organizations (e.g., Church and youth organizations). Growing the money would keep our households’ or organizations activities sustainable. This implies that burying the money that we have is bad. We might not literally bury it in our backyard. We have varied ways of “burying.” For example, in the province, if a family gets a good harvest from the rice field and then sells it, amounting to at least fifty thousand pesos, you would not expect them to put the money in the bank to earn interest. They instead “bury” or hide it under the bed. The money could have been invested to make it grow.

We have our material or spiritual gifts. We have our capabilities of loving, serving, and sharing in varying measures. We have our life. These are the talents Jesus is referring to in the parable. They are God’s gifts that help us grow in Christian responsibility and spirituality. All these things are given to us not to bury nor hide but to use them for a purpose. As Rick Warren puts it: “If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life.” 

Living one’s life with a purpose implies responsibility. Interestingly, the parable speaks of rewards in terms of greater responsibility. The first two servants who grew their talents were given more responsibilities. This responsibility was seemingly what the third servant avoided, implying that he opted for a purposeless life. Are we the first two servants, or do we find ourselves in the disposition of the third servant? As Rick Warren puts it: “If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life.”

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