We are celebrating the last ordinary Sunday of the liturgical year A, before we conclude it with the feast of Christ the King and begin a new liturgical year (B) that ushers in the Advent season. On this Sunday the liturgy of the Word is centered on the theme of using one’s God-given talents, not only for one’s wellbeing, but that of the whole community to which one belongs. This is possible only when we live now with an eye toward our final goal which is the possession of God in heaven.
The first reading tellingly describes the same thought in the following manner (although it is directed primarily to women and expressed in a woman’s idiom), when it describes the ideal woman within the family, as well as the joy with which she is able to fill her home.
Her main qualities are:
• as a wife, she is capable, trusted by her husband, does him good and not harm all her life, and works with her hands;
• as a woman with talent, she buys a field and plants a vineyard. She is strong, and her lamp does not go out at night;
• as a caring person, she opens her hand to help the poor and reaches out to the needy. She shares her wisdom and is kind;
• as a mother, her children rise early and call her happy. Her husband praises her for her excellence;
• as a woman she reverences the Lord, and shares what God has shared with her.
All in all, it is a celebrated “valiant wife” passage from Proverbs, wherein we are reminded that physical beauty and charm, as noble as they may be, are nonetheless passing: what endures is spiritual attractiveness. For men, this passage could meaningfully be translated into terms of physical strength or vigorous youth – both of these fade away as age progresses and what remains forever is strength and vigour of soul. Reference to a woman’s physical beauty, or to a man’s strength or vigour, also prompts some reflection on physical inequalities. Some people seem to be gifted less than others in this world’s attributes, physical as well as psychological and intellectual. What matters, again, is a person’s spirit. What will remain is a person’s beauty and strength of soul. And beauty and strength of soul necessarily reflect one’s priorities in this brief pilgrimage to our only real and everlasting homeland which is heaven.
How do we achieve beauty and strength of soul so that we will be recognised by Jesus our Judge & Lord at his Second coming? Well, it is in today’s Gospel passage. As the Gospel reminds us, let us live here & now making the most of the talents God has given us for his greater honour & glory and contribute to the life of the Community and give witness to the Gospel before the world.
Dear brethren, let us always remember: simply for trying to do all this, we are assured of being rewarded a hundredfold. So shall it be!
Have a wonderful week-end!