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Bulletin: November 15, 2020

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Paul Harvey was a popular radio broadcaster with a daily program during which he would relate a historical anecdote, but it would have a twist at the end, and then he would intone “and now you know the rest of the story.” Our scriptures today are like that. We await the coming Christ as the readings describe for us how to be good servants, but they give us a limited picture. The famous Proverbs passage, “The Valiant Wife” is edited down from the full selection (31:10–31) to just a few verses. Take a couple moments to explore the fuller selection. Psalm 128 proclaims, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord,” but in this context “fear” doesn’t mean dread and trepidation. Rather, this kind of fear means “to show awe,” and there are wonderful promises made to those who do. The letter to the Thessalonians continues the call to be alert, and Matthew shows us various ways that people might respond to God in the parable of the talents. The Gospel is presented in long and shortened versions; be sure to read the whole thing so you can get “the rest of the story.”


In the story of the talents, the head of the household leaves the servants “talents” or money, which they are expected to foster and develop during the leader’s absence. Today we think of talent as an innate ability or a skill. It is interesting that they were distributed “according to ability,” which would express a certain intimacy as we realize that the master knew each one, and already had an idea of their capabilities. They were not given explicit instructions like “put this in the bank” or “invest this in your portfolio” or “take piano lessons.” Rather, we are told that the goods were divided unequally. One received five, one received two, and the last received one.


When the head of the household returned, the outcomes were just as varied as we and our responses might be. Some people are multitalented, and capable of accomplishing many great things, like the servant who turned five into ten. Others may be more inclined to do one or two things very well and may excel in them. Still, there are some who may struggle in life, and their accomplishments are very small. But those who made use of their gifts were praised and told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When it came to the second coming, the return of their master, they both made some effort. The only one in whom the head of household showed any disappointment was the one who made absolutely no effort, the one who was frozen by fear or indifference. As we journey toward the kingdom, there are not always clear instructions. We are simply asked to try, to give it our best effort. There is nothing in the passage to say that these servants didn’t make mistakes along the way, but their master saw them and loved and praised them for their actions, their attempts, as God will do with us. And now you know the rest of the story.

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