Meditations by Msgr. Liptak

 

Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations

 

THIRTY THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

The Purpose of Life


Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; First Thessalonians 5:1-6;
Matthew 25:14-30

 

Aim: to show (1) the inequality among people in this world and (2) the equal goal of sanctity for each one of us.

 

Today's Gospel looks forward to Jesus' Second Coming, as Judge and Lord. So too does the Second Reading. St. Paul's warning to his converts at Thessalonica that the date of Christ's Second Coming is not only not known, but in all probability is not imminent. Some of the Thessalonians had actually given up their jobs to await the world's end. Paul had to tell them to get on with their lives here below. But he urges the Thessalonians to stay wide awake and keep spreading the light of faith against the day when this world will end.

The key truth sounded in both readings is that we live now with an eye toward our final goal: the possession of God in heaven. Remember how simply the basic catechism puts this: we are created to know, love, and serve God in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next.

Today's First Reading says the same, although it is directed primarily to women, and expressed in a woman's idiom. (St. Paul injects another feminine point in today's Second Reading; that comparison between the end of the world and childbirth.) It's the 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 forever 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; what remains forever is strength and vigor of soul.

Reference to a woman's physical beauty, or to a man's strength or vigor, 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: heaven.

How do we achieve beauty and strength of soul so that we will be recognized by Jesus our Judge and Lord at his Second Coming?

Today's Gospel reminds us that living here below means making the most of the talents God has given us for his greater honor and glory. Simply for trying to do this, we are assured of being rewarded a hundredfold.

This means, of course, that we should not live our lives in a constant process of demanding things of God. On the contrary, we should try to use all that we have of God's worldly gifts to increase our investment in heaven's riches-the only treasure, Jesus reminded us, which will never diminish in value.

Essential to this way of life is that we always keep before our minds and hearts the Gospel vision of the Lord Jesus, seated as Judge before us at the Last Day, and asking of us what we did with the talents he gave us.

If we live, however, as if this world were its own goal; if we live merely to acquire all the pleasure and satisfaction this world alone can give-always a transient pleasure or satisfaction; if we live merely, as the saying goes, to eat, drink, and be merry since tomorrow we shall die; then we will have squandered all our talents and must appear before Christ our Judge and Lord without anything to show for having lived. Without anything to show for a life's opportunity, which once given, is never given anew.

 
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