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November 12, 2008
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Nov. 16: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Theme: Stewardship. As we approach the end of the Church year, our Gospel readings describe the final drama of Jesus’ life when the moment of decision has come and people are faced with the reality of God’s judgment. Will they be found worthy of the kingdom of heaven? At the most obvious level this week’s readings are about good stewardship. The wife in the first reading is a model of Godly virtue: she combines practical good sense, unselfish generosity and strong faith. The “good and faithful servant” in the Gospel is praised for his prudence and ingenuity. Both will be rewarded for their labors. The readings remind us that one day the drama of our lives will end and we will have to give an account to the Lord. The second reading reiterates this theme: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Because we know neither the day nor the hour of our death, we are to live “as children of the light,” always ready to meet the Master of the house when he comes.
Key verse: “You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night” (1 Thes 5:2).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith” (No. 1021).
Pope Benedict XVI: “It is not simply, as one might expect, God, the infinite, the unknown, the eternal who judges. On the contrary, he has handed the judgment over to one who as man is our brother. It is not a stranger who judges us but he who we know in faith. The judge will not advance to meet us as the other, but as one of us, who knows human existence from inside and has suffered” (“Introduction to Christianity”).
Application: We’ve been entrusted with many important things: relationships, money, skills and talents, the common good, etc. As Catholics we’ve also been entrusted with something else: the light of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the precious deposit of faith. When the “Master of the house” returns, we will have to give an account of what we did with these. Have we kept the light of Christ burning brightly through prayer and the frequent reception of the Eucharist? Have we lived as “children of the light” in accord with the Gospel? Have we been faithful to the teachings of the Church? Have we done our utmost to learn our faith and share it with others?