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by Jason

GOSPEL

Luke 19:22
1 Corinthians 15:10
1 Timothy 6:18-19
1 Corinthians 4:1-2
1 Peter 4:10
Genesis 3:1-7

2ND READING

The Day of the Lord:

Joel 2:31
Obadiah 1:15
Malachi 4:5
Philippians 1:9-10.
2 Peter 3:10

Living in the Light:

Ephesians 5:8
John 9:4
Romans 13:12
Philippians 2:15
1 John 1:7

________________

Inductive Bible Study

Fr. Fleming
Fr. Hawkswell
Fr. Hoisington
Fr. Kavanaugh, SJ
Fr. Ligato
Msgr. Pellegrino
Fr. Smiga
Fr. John Thornhill, sm
Jamie Waters
and more


Fr. Tony’s Homilies

Overview
1st & 2nd Reading
Gospel Exegesis
Life Messages
Homily Illustrations
Jokes of the Week


Faith Sharing
Discussion
Bible Study

Over 50 questions each week from which to pick and choose.

Larry Broding
Fr. Eamon Tobin
Fr. Clement Thibodeau
Vince Contreras

INTROFIRSTPSALMSECONDGOSPELCHURCH FATHERS
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"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." — Matthew 25:24-25

USCCB Sunday Mass Readings

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First Reading

commentary

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. — Wisdom 31:30-31

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Responsorial Psalm

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table.— Psalm 128:3

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Second Reading

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. — 1 Thessalonians 5:2

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commentary

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. — Wisdom 31:30-31

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First Reading

Prov 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

INTRODUCTION — Writing about five centuries before Jesus, the author of Proverbs wanted to remind fellow Jews that they were a people close to God, with a healthy civilization and admirable wisdom. The behavior of a capable, practical wife expresses this wisdom.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org (Greg Warnusz)

Reflections

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

An ideal wife

FIRST READING—This reading paints a picture of an ideal or worthy wife. Today’s Gospel defines the woman as one who uses her talents well in contrast to the servant who buries his talents. Also, in the context of Wisdom literature (which the Book of Proverbs is), the industrious woman is a personification of Wisdom.

Wisdom literature extols the blessings of wisdom as a great prize, worth more than gold, more than a long life or power. Wisdom imparts to all who befriend her that all they need to be successful in the world, is their relationship with God and their family. The wise woman “is a value beyond pearls, her children rise up to praise her (not in today’s reading); she reaches out to the poor.”

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

A worthy wife is a great treasure

FIRST READING—The Book of Proverbs is made up of two-line sayings they apply to moral behavior (Chapter 10-29), preceded by a long introduction of poems and songs (Chapters 1-19), and concluded by longer sayings and poems (Chapters 30-31). The Poem of the Wife can be found at the very end of the book. The experts say that it is an acrostic poem. Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet; the next verse with the next letter, etc. This device was used as a memory aid to help those who recited the poem to remember the next line. The wife who is extolled here is probably a domestication of wisdom, bringing God into the level of the home and the family. The wife represents God to the Hebrew family. The use of a female personage to represent God echoes the language of Isaiah and other prophets. The Christian Scriptures, which were heavily influenced by Greek thought forms and culture, have lost this usage. So has the Church.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

The valiant woman as an image of God

FIRST READING—Praise of the valiant woman brings the Book of Proverbs to its end. The entire poem, Proverbs 31:10-31, makes an acrostic, a poetry form in which the first word in each verse begins with the successive letters of the alphabet. In addition to being entertaining and an aid for memorization, the acrostic form implies that the poem says everything there is to say about its subject, from A to Z, Alpha to Omega, Alef to Tav. By putting this poem at the end of the Book of Proverbs, the authors were suggesting that all the wisdom they had collected from their tradition came to its apex in the woman described here.

The valiant woman does everything that a faithful Israelite should do. No arm candy is this one, nor is she a couch potato. She knows what to do with wool, and she is an expert at finding the best for her family when she goes to market. No one goes hungry around her, and she is the first to show others how to work. She enjoys the fruits of her labor, but doesn’t keep them for herself or her own.

The poem creates an inspiring image as it describes her generosity. This woman “reaches out her hands to the poor,” implying that she is there to lift them up and give of what she has. Then, going much further it says, “She extends her arms to the needy.” She actually embraces those who are languishing. This worthy woman cares for the body and soul of those who need her. Because of that, her husband can entrust his heart to her, and he commands respect among the elders who sit at the city gate. She makes things good for him at home and in public.

The poem tells us three key things about her relationship with God (See verses 25, 26, 30). She opens her mouth in wisdom, meaning that she speaks from discernment and knows God in her heart. Second, she fears the Lord, which means that she stands in holy awe of God’s majesty. Third, because she fears the Lord, “she laughs at the days to come.” She is content to do all she can to provide for those who need her while trusting God for the rest.

While we may think of the Hebrew culture as marked by male chauvinism, this reading describes the woman who is like the just man praised in Psalm 1. The just man is like a tree planted near running waters. The worthy woman is an image of the God who created her, and she will see her works praise her at the city gates.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Tips for Lectors

Pronounce “distaff” with a short “i” and the accent on the first syllable. (A distaff is an instrument used in spinning thread.) Pause after the line “[She] extends her arms to the needy,” because there’s a break in the thought there.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org (Greg Warnusz)

Commentaries

Sunday Readingscommentary

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The ideal wife

The First Reading describes the fidelity of a woman who is the ideal wife. The inspired writer describes her as a woman who demonstrates that she is wise in every situation. The source of her wisdom, for which she should receive praise, is her desire to please God. Symbolically, the poem illustrates wisdom as a gift with which God endowed His creation. The poem is also a compliment to the moral strength of all good women.

Exploring the Text

Introduction

Proverbs 31:10-31 is the epilogue to the Book of Proverbs.  It forms an acrostic poem where each verse’s first letter corresponds to a Hebrew letter in alphabetical order.  Our first reading presents a series of wise sayings from a mother to her son concerning the qualities of an ideal wife.  The entire poem may be symbolic since the prologue to the Book of Proverbs depicts “Wisdom” personified as a woman who invites everyone to a banquet at her house.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Moral strength of godly women

St. John Paul II’s Comments

The poem is a compliment to the moral strength of all godly women.  An ideal woman’s wisdom is evident in every situation, and the source of her wise actions, for which she should receive praise, is her desire to please God (Prov 31:30).

Symbolically, the poem illustrates wisdom as a gift with which God has endowed His creation.

St. John Paul II commented that this wisdom and strength of character is evident in the lives of many women in the Old Testament, in Jesus’ times, and throughout the age of the Church.  He wrote:

“Thus the ‘perfect woman’ (cf Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people who perceive the great energies of her spirit.  These ‘perfect women’ are owed much by their families and sometimes by whole nations” (Mulieris dignitalem, 30).

To that long list of wise and strong women, we should include Mary of Nazareth, the seven women disciples who followed Jesus, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Avila, and St. Teresa of Calcutta, to name only a few.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
 SOURCE: Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Helper of the Poor
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Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table.— Psalm 128:3

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Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Blessed are those who fear the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This wisdom psalm refers to the blessing of a worthy wife extolling the virtues of family life in general.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.

Commentary

Africa Bible Commentary

Family blessings

“God blesses not only our work (Ps 128: 1) but also our family life. Israel was a farming society, and so the psalmist often uses agricultural imagery to describe prosperity (see, for example, Ps 52: 8; Ps 80: 8-11). In this psalm, the wife is said to be like a fruitful vine (Ps 128: 3a), bearing many children just as a vine bears many clusters of fruit.

The image reminds us of the blessing given to an Atyap bride in central Nigeria: ‘May you have so many children that you will have to stand rather than sit down to eat!’ A bride is also sometimes told, ‘The next time we see you, may your hands be behind your back’, that is, may she be carrying a baby on her back.

The reference to children as a sign of God’s blessing should not be interpreted as meaning that those who do not have children are cursed by God or disobedient to him. Children may be God’s normal pattern of blessing in marriage, but he does not always follow the same pattern. Wives who do not have children can still be fruitful in God’s service as they bear the fruit of his Spirit.

The children of those who fear the Lord are described as being like olive shoots round your table (Ps 128: 3b). The image is of new growth springing up from an old tree and promising new crops of olives. In 128:4 the psalmist returns to the point made in 128: 1, but now we have images to fill in the picture of God’s blessing. A man with his own vine and olive tree is a man who enjoys peace and plenty. Ancient proverbs recognized this when they referred to a time of blessing as a time when everyone sat under their own vine and fig tree (1 Kgs 4: 25; Mic 4: 4; Zech 3: 10).”

SOURCE: Content taken from Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Writtten by 70 African Scholars by Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible

A good family life

A good family life is a reward for following God. The values outlined in God’s Word include love, service, honesty, integrity, and prayer. These help all relationships, and they are especially vital to home life. Is your home life heavenly or hectic? Reading and obeying God’s Word is a good place to start to make your family all that it should be.

SOURCE: Content taken from  Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Sunday Readingscommentary and homily help

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The blessings of fidelity

The Responsorial Psalm extols the wisdom of the person who fears offending God. That person will experience God’s blessings in life. Then, as now, obedience to the Lord God’s commandments and the willingness to live a righteous life that pleases God is the path to good relationships within our families and the community. The summit of every week for the faithful Christians should be liturgical worship on the Lord’s Day and participating in the life of Jesus Christ in receiving the gift of the Eucharist. It is how our Lord continues to bless us on our journey through life on our way to the eternal beatitude in His heavenly Sanctuary.

Exploring the Text

Overview of the psalm

The psalm begins with a statement concerning the blessings of good fortune for the person who fears offending Yahweh (Ps 128:1). It then describes how that good fortune manifests itself in a person’s life (Ps 128:2-4). The passage ends with a blessing invoking God on Mount Zion, a reference to worshipping in the Jerusalem Temple (Ps 128:5).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Fear of the Lord

Fear of Yahweh means demonstrating reverence and obedience to God by keeping His commandments (Dt 6:2, 13, 24-25).  The phrase “fear of the Lord” in Ps 128:1, repeated in Ps 128:4, makes verses 1-4 a unit by repeating the necessity for the wisdom of a healthy spiritual fear of offending God.  Ps 128:2-4 is a beatitude promising a happy family life with enough to eat, unity between husband and wife (Ps 128:2), and content and healthy children (Ps 128:3).  The passage concludes in verse 5 with a divine blessing for both the individual covenant believer and the covenant people.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Christian application of the psalm

Then, as now, obedience to the Lord God’s commandments and the willingness to live a righteous life that pleases God is the path to good relationships within our families and the community. For Christians, the climax of every week must be liturgical worship on the Lord’s Day and participating in the life of Jesus Christ in receiving the gift of the Eucharist. In this way, our Lord continues to bless us on our journey through life towards the eternal beatitude He promised the faithful in Heaven.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons
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For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. — 1 Thessalonians 5:2

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Second Reading

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

INTRODUCTION — The earliest Christians were sure that the return of Jesus in glory, bringing history to its climax, would occur in their lifetimes. Saint Paul tells them they can’t know the day or hour, but that they always feel prepared nonetheless, because they live in the light.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org (Greg Warnusz)

Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Questions about Jesus’ return

SECOND READING—Paul continues to respond to questions about Jesus’ return. He tells the Thessalonians that having no knowledge of the day nor the hour, they should be in constant vigilance and live always as children of the light.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

The Day of the Lord is coming

SECOND READING—Having previously discussed what is going to happen to those who have died when the end comes, Paul now addresses what will happen to those who are still living. The Day of the Lord, traditionally in Jewish literature, refers to the time when God will intervene to bring about a correction in human history (Amos 8:18; Joel 2:1; Zephaniah 1:7). The same can be found in Christian literature (Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5). Later in Paul, the day will be that of Christ (Philemon 1:6,10). In apocalyptic writings, the end is always sudden and most often unexpected. Paul tells us that we will not be caught off guard since we have been given the light of the Spirit to discern when all is to happen. If we are always ready for the return of Christ, then what does it matter if he comes suddenly?

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Stay alert and sober

SECOND READING—As Paul begins this section of his letter, he gets his audience’s attention by praising them: “You surely don’t need to be reminded of what I am going to say. You all know it well.” When we hear something like that, we perk up our ears either to be reinforced in what we really do know or to play a little catch-up, to hear it and then say, “Sure, I know that.”  Beginning his message in that way was a subtle way of saying, “This is really important. Act like you know it only too well!” With that attention grabber, Paul goes on to talk about the day of the Lord.

In the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, the day of the Lord was the day of judgment, the day when God would vindicate the just. The Thessalonians apparently wanted to know when this was going to come about. They were looking for signs of it. They may well have been listening to the apocalypticists, the folks who predicted the end by using mysterious scriptures and their own interpretation of what was happening around them.

In response to self-proclaimed prophets who purported to read the heavens or politics and shouted: “The day is nigh!” Paul says, “You know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” He’s reminding them that nobody knows when it is going to happen. No thief shows up on schedule nor do house-robbers send text messages with suggestions like, “Leave the window open and your wallet on the kitchen table.”

In a sense, Paul is saying “You never know what is going to happen.” When people think all is well, “sudden disaster comes upon them.” So, what is the Christian to do? Paul says, “You are children of the light.” You have learned to see what life is all about. “Stay awake, alert to what you know and all will be well.” There is a way in which we could take Paul’s injunction to stay alert and sober as an imitation of the worthy woman who can laugh at tomorrow. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow, nobody knows when the day of the Lord will arrive. Nevertheless, we can keep on keeping on. We can walk in the way of light knowing which road to stay on, accepting the fact that we can’t predict exactly when we will reach the destination.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Tips for Lectors

Emphasize the phrase “day of the Lord” in the second sentence. Do the same for the expression “that day” in the second paragraph. Also, let your voice express the contrasts throughout the reading.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org (Greg Warnusz)

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Commentaries

Life Application Study Bible

We have work to do here

Heaven is not our only goal; we have work to do here. Christians must keep on doing God’s work until death or until we see the unmistakeable return of our Savior

SOURCE: Content taken from  Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible

Paul warns us that God will hold all people accountable for their attitudes and actions

This day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, so we need to stay alert and ready at all times. This is especially important for those of us who procrastinate, thinking we can start recovery anytime. God wants us to act immediately to receive his forgiveness and power to help us change. Those of us who belong to God will give evidence of our faith by acting in ways that testify to God’s work in our life. If we entrust our life to God and seek to follow his will, we have nothing to fear. If we continue to do things our own way, rejecting God’s plan of salvation, this day of accountability will be our day of doom.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Sunday Readingscommentary

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Stay alert for the day of the Lord

In the Second Reading, St. Paul writes about the reward for those who persevere in faith until the Lord’s return.  Paul presents the argument that every Christian should remain alert because he does not know when the Lord Jesus is coming.  Paul writes that it shouldn’t matter when the Lord returns so long as Jesus finds him or her doing good and not evil in the last moments of life.  Therefore, those who are “children of light” must remain in a state of grace because if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).

Exploring the Text

The day of the Lord

The “Day of the Lord” or the “Day of Yahweh” in the Old Testament refers to the point at which God will decisively intervene in human history, usually in judgment (Is 6:13; Amos 5:18-20; Mt 24:36, 43).

In St. Paul’s letters, the “day of the Lord” refers to the “Second Coming” of Jesus when, in the fullness of His glory, He will judge the people of all nations in the Last Judgment (1 Cor 1:8; 2 Cor 1:14; 2 Thes 4:16; CCC 1038-41).  Like Jesus’ warning of the Day of Judgment in the Gospels, Paul warns that it will come suddenly and unexpectedly.  Like Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24, Paul compares the time leading up to the Last Judgment to a woman experiencing labor pains before childbirth (compare verse 1 Thess 5:3 to Mt 24:19).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Night and darkness

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness for that day to overtake you like a thief.  5 For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.  We are not of the night or darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.

Night and darkness are symbols of sin and evil in Scripture.  Paul says the Parousia (“coming”) of the Lord will take people by surprise like a thief in the night (verse 4).  A thief works at night because he thinks the darkness will give him an advantage, and the householder will be unprepared.  But the Christian must not be “in darkness” on that day; he must be in a state of grace to be received by the Lord.  Jesus used the same comparison of a thief taking his victim by surprise in Matthew 24:43.

Paul presents the argument that the Christian should keep alert because he/she does not know when the Lord Jesus is coming, nor does it matter so long as Jesus finds him or her doing good and not evil in the last moments of life.  Therefore, those who are “children of light” must be vigilant and remain in a state of grace because if we walk in the light, as He is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin (1852) SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons
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"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." — Matthew 25:24-25

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Gospel Reading

Matthew 25:14-30

INTRODUCTION — Jesus told a story about an honest slave resisting the plans of a wicked master. A later Christian community was concerned about when Jesus would return, and how to live in the interim. Matthew adapts the the old story to their needs.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org (Greg Warnusz)

Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Waiting for Jesus’ return

GOSPEL—This Gospel is addressed to Jesus’s disciples who are compared to servants entrusted with certain talents which are to be used well to promote Jesus’ mission.

It is important to note that the mean and very demanding master in the story does not represent God. Having said that, we can say that in telling this story, Jesus is saying to his disciples (and to us) that the time of waiting for his return is not to be a time of passive waiting or non-engagement out of fear of failure. Waiting for Jesus’ return is “a time of opportunity, of active engagement and creative growth” (Diane Bergant).

In his first letter, St. Peter reminds us: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (4:10). This parable is teaching the disciples (and us) to not let the fear of failure and fear of unacceptability prevent us from using the gifts we have received

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

We are responsible for the gifts given

GOSPEL—The fifth and final sermon of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (24:1-25:46) brings to a conclusion all the teachings that Matthew wanted to convey to the leaders of his Christian Jewish community. It has been called the Sermon of Woes and Wows! In it, Matthew gathers the words of Jesus on the destruction of the Temple (which has already occurred by the time this is written) and the beginning of the mighty sufferings to be endured. Jesus speaks of the Great Tribulation to come. The Son of Man will appear. An example is given of what will happen to those who have not been faithful: the lesson of the fig tree. Jesus says that the day and the hour for all this to take place is unknown. Three parables illustrate the teaching on the judgment: The Faithful and the Unfaithful Servant, The Wise and the Foolish Virgins, The Parable of the Talents. And, finally, the great scene of the Judgment of the Nations.

Thus, we have the context for the proclamation that will bring closure to Jesus’ message. The Parable of the Talents appears to Matthew to be the climax of all that we must know before we face the judgment of separation based on how we have treated Jesus in one another. The proper and fruitful use we make of the natural gifts we have been given will determine our fate and our future for all eternity.

Talents has both a symbolic and a literal meaning in this parable. We have only to look at ourselves and at others to see that God has given natural gifts in various measures to different people. I have not been given a good singing voice; I do not readily understand mathematical concepts; I do not have very good hand-to-eye coordination, etc. There are many other gifts that I lack. Talents also referred to units of money in the ancient world. A silver talent was worth about $1,000. Ten talents was all that a person could ever hope to earn in a lifetime.

Jesus may have originally addressed a criticism of the way the Sadducees refuse to develop the tradition of Judaism to allow for the resurrection of the dead. In Matthew, the meaning is much more general: What to do with the gifts that God has given us in preparation for the judgment to come?We are responsible for the proper disposition of what comes from God. Our lives are on loan to us; they are to be used for God’s purposes.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Everything we have are gifts of God

GOSPEL—All three readings this week ask us what we are doing with the time of our life. The worthy woman is a model of God’s faithful ones who go about doing good in every circumstance. Paul addresses a community anxious for predictions and tells them not to worry about the end but rather about the way they were living day to day. If they live as children of the light, they have nothing to worry about. With that preparation, we come to Jesus’ parable of the talents. Here we have the question of what we do with the time and circumstances of our lives, but also very directly the question of why we do what we do and what it has to do with God.

The situation Jesus sets up is imaginable in spite of its fantastic dimensions. The people listening to Jesus could envision a wealthy businessman who had a plethora of servants. Some servants would typically be left in charge of the household, etc. Some others would be well prepared and able to carry on the master’s work. The latter were the specially chosen ones, the ones who had a knack for the master’s business.

When the master was going somewhere, he gave his servants charge of everything. In this case, he handed over a good portion of his fortune to the specialists in his business so that they could continue his work. Nobody should feel too sorry for the servant who received the least — what he got was in the realm of a million dollars. What he did was not unimaginable under the circumstances. Where there were no banks one could keep money safe by hiding it; a secret burial place was very secure. The factor which made all the difference was that he didn’t like his master enough to care about what he did for him.

The trouble was that the servant didn’t do what the master wanted. The master himself could have buried the money or even put it in the bank! It was as if the master had given this servant seeds to use while he was gone and the servant put them carefully in a cupboard, saying that he was keeping them safe from floods, droughts or a plague of locusts.

The master handed his fortune over to his servants so that they could keep his business going. Those who did so not only increased the master’s fortune, but they became more like him as they did his work, as they carried forth his mission. When the master returned, he didn’t look at the amounts and rejoice more for a return of five talents than for the return of two. To both of those servants he said, “Come, share your master’s joy,” which was another way of saying, “Come to my feast!”

The whole truth came out when the servant who had received a mere one million reported in. Before he ever spoke of what he did, he told the master what he thought of him: “You are demanding, you harvest what you did not plant, you go for everything you can get. So I decided to have nothing to do with your projects. Look, I return to you exactly what you gave me, nothing more nothing less.” In effect that servant was saying, “I want nothing to do with your endeavors.” While the story says that the master ordered that he be thrown out, that was no more than the logical conclusion of a process the servant himself had set in motion. He had already chosen to exclude himself from the master’s business. If he wouldn’t take part in the master’s plan, it was impossible for him to share the master’s joy.

Today’s readings remind us that everything we have is a gift from God given so that we may know God’s joy. Each of us must then decide what to make of the time of our lives.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

Life Recovery Bible

Perfectionism

Perfectionism can paralyze us. Perhaps we have been shamed for not being exactly what others wanted us to be. Now the shadow of unrealistic expectations is cast over how we see ourself, creating unrealistic expectations for our progress.

Jesus told the story of a man who loaned three servants money to invest for him while he was away. The first two men invested and doubled the money; the third hid his money in a hole. The third servant saw the master through the eyes of fear. He “came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ But the master replied, ‘ . . . Why didn’t you deposit my money into the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it’” (Matthew 25:24-27).

When we measure ourself by the expectations of others or by our own need to be perfect, we may fall so short that we may not even try to succeed. All God asks of us is that we try to do something with our abilities and resources. When we allow ourself the option of just making modest progress, we will find the courage to progress in recovery. Even the least improvement is better than not trying at all or being doomed to complete failure by our perfectionism.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible

Using our time, abilities and money wisely

Mt 25:15 – The talents represent any kind of resource we are given. God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and he expects us to invest them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have.

Mt 25:21  – We are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do. For a few people, this may mean changing professions. For most of us, it means doing our daily work out of love for God.

Mt 25:24–30 – This last man was thinking only of himself. He hoped to play it safe and protect himself from his hard master, but he was judged for his self-centeredness. We must not make excuses to avoid doing what God calls us to do. If God truly is our Master, we must obey willingly. Our time, abilities, and money aren’t ours in the first place—we are caretakers, not owners. When we ignore, squander, or abuse what we are given, we are rebellious and deserve to be punished.

SOURCE: Content taken from  Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Feasting on the Word Commentary

Not being ruled by fear

In this parable, it is fear and distrust that paralyzes the third slave. His view of the master (who has generously and freely entrusted him with fifteen years worth of an average laborer’s wages) keeps him fearful and constricted, to the point that he neglects or rejects the master’s graciously given opportunity. Consequently, he is severely punished.

What we think about God and do in response to the master’s gracious trust is neither trivial nor incidental. We have real choices and power, with genuine consequences resulting from the ways we use our freedom. What we do or fail to do shapes this world and our lives. It is not the only factor, but it is nonetheless crucial. Thus, compassionately addressing inactivity, fears, and/or misconceptions about God could be a freeing treasure to offer an insecure society.

SOURCE: Content taken from Feasting on the Word. All rights reserved.
Africa Bible Commentary

The gifts God has given us

God has richly endowed his people with his gifts. These are not to be ignored or treated as ornaments for display. Instead, we as individuals or congregations must see these gifts as investments to be used to gain glory for the master. We must put faith into action by taking risks that will lead to fruitfulness.

God will call us all to account at some time. in cases where God’s gifts have been used profitably, more will be added in abundance. Where thre has been fruitlessness instead of profitability, theoriginal invesment will be completely lost or taken away.

SOURCE: Content taken from Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Writtten by 70 African Scholars by Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Sunday Readingscommentary

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The parable of the servants and the talents

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells a parable about the degrees of the fidelity of a Master’s servants and their rewards according to their service. Jesus promises that those servants of His who strive to be faithful by using their spiritual gifts to serve the Church and to advance the Kingdom will receive even more blessings to enrich their lives. However, the warning is that those who neglect their spiritual gifts will lose what God initially gave them. Those Christians who refuse to use their spiritual gifts are guilty of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Exploring the Text

The 'man' in the parable

In the Greek text, the “man” in the parable is referred to as kyrios, “lord,” ten times in verses Mt 25:8, 19, 20, 21 (twice), Mt 25:22, 23 (twice), Mt 24, and Mt 25:26.  All the elements in the parable are symbolic:

  • The “lord” in the parable is Jesus.
  • His journey is His Ascension to the Heavenly Kingdom.
  • His servants are His disciples of every generation.
  • The “talents” represents the spiritual gifts God gives every believer.
  • The Lord/Christ will return in the Second Advent, which will precede the “settling of accounts” in the judgment of His servants
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Talents

A “talent” was a huge sum equal in value to 6,000 Greek drachmas.  One commentator estimated a single talent was worth the wage of a common laborer for fifteen years.  (Fr. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, “money,” page 583).  You may recall that the double drachma was the amount due for the Temple tax (Mt 18:24-27).  Therefore, the talent amounts in the parable represent an enormous amount of money in the ancient world.  God is generous in giving spiritual gifts to His covenant children.  And like the man in the parable, He calibrates those spiritual gifts according to the disciple/servant’s abilities.  However, He expects His servants to use those gifts to advance the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The servants

Notice that Jesus congratulated both the servant with many spiritual gifts and the one with less spiritual gifts.  He judges each according to his ability to use what he receives.  All the servants are believers and members of the covenant.  The servants who used their gifts wisely received the promise of entrance into their Lord’s joy (Mt 25:21, 23) that is eternal salvation and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity in the heavenly Kingdom.

The failed servant admitted that he knew what his lord required, just as we know what our God requires for those in a covenant relationahip with Him.  The servant neglected to use his talent, making the excuse that if he buried it, he believed he couldn’t fail.  His master did not accept his explaination just as our Lord God will not accept our excuse for not using the spiritual gift He gave us.  The failed servant received the opposite of the faithful servants.  Instead of “entering in,” he was “cast out,” representing those consigned to a state of eternal separation from God in Gehenna (the Hell of the damned), the place of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (CCC 1033-37).

26 His master [kyrios] 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?  27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?’

God calls men and women to salvation even outside the Church, where He did not plant and scatter the seeds of the Gospel.  The failed servant knew the scope of God’s call to salvation but ignored his obligation to help with the harvest.  The least he could have done would have been to invest what he received.  He could have used the temporal gift of money to spread the Gospel by financially supporting the Church, which is “the bank” that converts material gifts into taking care of the poor and dispossessed.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Wailing and gnashing of teeth

29 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.  30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

“Wailing and gnashing of teeth” is a term that St. Matthew used seven times in his Gospel (Mt 8:12; Mt 13:42,50; Mt 22:13, Mt 24:51, Mt 25:30 and for the last time in 25:30).  The expression vividly describes the frustration and anguish felt by those souls who have been, through their unrepeated sins, excluded from the Lord’s joy in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus/the Lord promises that those who are faithful servants and who use their spiritual gifts to serve the Church and to advance the Kingdom will receive even more blessings to enrich their lives in the service of Jesus Christ.  However, Jesus warns us that those who neglect their spiritual gifts will lose what God gave them initially.  Those who refuse to use their spiritual gifts are guilty of quenching the fire/work of the Holy Spirit in their lives (1 Thess 5:19; CCC 696).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
Entrusted Talents by Paulamaria Walter (1963, Part of “Paths to Art”, a sculpture path in Schwäbisch Gmünd-Straßdorf). From Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved November 8, 2020]. Original source: Wikimedia

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The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

The Catena Aurea

Saint Thomas Aquinas

List of Church Fathers used in Aquinas' commentary

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Matthew 25:14-30

TOGGLE BIBLE VERSES

14. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15. And unto one he gave rive talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury.

28. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

GLOSS. (non occ.) In the foregoing parable is set forth the condemnation of such as have not prepared sufficient oil for themselves, whether by oil is meant the brightness of good works, or inward joy of conscience, or alms paid in money.

CHRYSOSTOM. This parable is delivered against those who will not assist their neighbours either with money, or words, or in any other way, but hide all that they have.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix, l.) The man travelling into a far country is our Redeemer, who ascended into heaven in that flesh which He had taken upon Him. For the proper home of the flesh is the earth, and it, as it were, travels into a foreign country, when it is placed by the Redeemer in heaven.

ORIGEN. He travels, not according to His divine nature, but according to the dispensation of the flesh which He took upon Him. For He who says to His disciples, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, (Mat. 28:20.) is the Only-Begotten God, who is not circumscribed by bodily form. By saying this, we do not disunite Jesus, but attribute its proper qualities to each constituent substance. We may also explain thus, that the Lord travels in a far country with all those who walk by faith and not by sight. And when we are absent from the body with the Lord, then will He also be with us. Observe that the turn of expression is not thus, I am like, or The Son of Man is like, a man travelling into a far country, because He is represented in the parable as travelling, not as the Son of God, but as man.

JEROME. Calling together the Apostles, He gave them the Gospel doctrine, to one more, to another less, not as of His own bounty or scanting, but as meeting the capacity of the receivers, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 3:2.), that he fed with milk those that were unable to take solid food. In the five, two, and one talent, we recognise the diversity of gifts wherewith we have been entrusted.

ORIGEN. Whenever you see of those who have received from Christ a dispensation of the oracles of God that some have more and some less; that some have not in comparison of the better sort half an understanding of things; that others have still less; you will perceive the difference of those who have all of them received from Christ oracles of God. They to whom five talents were given, and they to whom two, and they to whom one, have divers degrees of capacity, and one could not hold the measure of another; he who received but one having received no mean endowment, for one talent of such a master is a great thing. His proper servants are three, as there are three sorts of those that bear fruit. He that received five talents, is he that is able to raise all the meanings of the Scriptures to their more divine significations; he that has two is he that has been taught carnal doctrine, (for two seems to be a carnal number,) and to the less strong the Master of the household has given one talent.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Otherwise; The five talents denote the gift of the five senses, that is, the knowledge of things without; the two signify understanding and action, the one talent understanding only.

GLOSS. (ord.) And straightway took his journey, not changing his place, but leaving them to their own freewill and choice of action.

JEROME. He that had received five talents, that is, having received his bodily senses, he doubled his knowledge of heavenly things, from the creature understanding the Creator, from earthly unearthly, from temporal the eternal.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) There are also some who though they cannot pierce to things inward and mystical, yet for their measure of view of their heavenly country they teach rightly such things as they can, what they have gathered from things without, and while they keep themselves from wantonness of the flesh, and from ambition of earthly things, and from the delights of the things that are seen, they restrain others also from the same by their admonitions.

ORIGEN. Or, They that have their senses exercised by healthy conversation, both raising themselves to higher knowledge and zealous in teaching others, these have gained other five; because no one can easily have increase of any virtues that are not his own, and without he teaches others what he himself knows, and no more.

HILARY. Or, That servant who received five talents is the people of believers under the Law, who beginning with that, doubled their merit by the right obedience of an evangelic faith.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Again, there are some who by their understanding and their actions preach to others, and thence gain as it were a twofold profit in such merchandize. This their preaching bestowed upon both sexes is thus a talent doubled.

ORIGEN. Or, gained other two, that is, carnal instruction, and another yet a little higher.

HILARY. Or, the servant to whom two talents were committed is the people of the Gentiles justified by the faith and confession of the Son and of the Father, confessing our Lord Jesus Christ, to be both God and Man, both Spirit and Flesh. These are the two talents committed to this servant. But as the Jewish people doubled by its belief in the Gospel every Sacrament which it had learned in the Law, (i. e. its five talents,) so this people by its use of its two talents merited understanding and working.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) To hide one’s talent in the earth is to devote the ability we have received to worldly business.

ORIGEN. Or otherwise; When you see one who has the power of teaching, and of benefitting souls, hiding this power, though he may have a certain religiousness of life, doubt not of such an one that he has received one talent and hides it in the earth.

HILARY. Or, This servant who has received one talent and hid it in the earth is the people that continue in the Law, who through jealousy of the salvation of the Gentiles hide the talent they have received in the earth. For to hide a talent in the earth is to hide the glory of the new preaching through offence at the Passion of His Body. His coming to reckon with them is the assize of the day of judgment.

ORIGEN. And note here that the servants do not come to the Lord to be judged, but the Lord shall come to them when the time shall be accomplished. After a long time, that is, when He has sent forth such as are fitted to bring about the salvation of souls, and perhaps for this reason it is not easy to find one who is quite fit to pass forthwith out of this life, as is manifest from this, that even the Apostles lived to old age; for example, it was said to Peter, When thou shalt be old, thou shall stretch forth thy hand; (John 21:18.) and Paul says to Philemon, Now as Paul the aged.

CHRYSOSTOM. Observe also that the Lord does not require the reckoning immediately, that you may learn His long suffering. To me He seems to say this covertly, alluding to the resurrection.

JEROME. After a long time, because there is a long interval between the Saviour’s ascension and His second coming.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) This lesson from this Gospel warns us to consider whether those, who seem to have received more in this world than others, shall not be more severely judged by the Author of the world; the greater the gifts, the greater the reckoning for them. Therefore should every one be humble concerning his talents in proportion as he sees himself tied up with a greater responsibility.

ORIGEN. He who had received five talents comes first with boldness before his Lord.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 2.) And bringing his talents doubled, he is commended by his Lord, and is sent into eternal happiness.

RABANUS. Well done is an interjection of joy; the Lord shewing us therein the joy with which He invites the servant who labours well to eternal bliss; of which the Prophet speaks, In thy presence is fulness of joy.

CHRYSOSTOM. Thou good servant, (Ps. 16:11.) this he means of that goodness which is shewn towards our neighbour.

GLOSS. (non occ.) Faithful, because he appropriated to himself none of those things which were his lord’s.

JEROME. He says, Thou wast faithful in a few things, because all that we have at present though they seem great and many, yet in comparison of the things to come are little and few.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) The faithful servant is set over many things, when having overcome the afflictions of corruption, he joys with eternal joy in that heavenly seat. He is then fully admitted to the joy of his Lord, when taken in to that abiding country, and numbered among the companies of Angels, he has such inward joy for this gift, that there is no room for outward sorrow at his corruption.

JEROME. What greater thing can be given to a faithful servant than to be with his Lord, and to see his Lord’s joy?

CHRYSOSTOM. By this word joy He expresses complete blessedness.

AUGUSTINE. (de Trin. i. 8.) This will be our perfect joy, than which is none greater, to have fruition of that Divine Trinity in whose image we were made.

JEROME. The servant who of five talents had made ten, and he who of two had made four, are received with equal favour by the Master of the household, who looks not to the largeness of their profit, but to the disposition of their will.

ORIGEN. That He says of both these servants that they came, we must understand of their passing out of this world to Him. And observe that the same was said to them both; he that had less capacity, but that which he had, he exercised after such manner as he ought, shall have no whit less with God than he who has a greater capacity; for all that is required is that whatever a man has from God, he should use it all to the glory of God.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 3.) The servant who would not trade with his talent returns to his Lord with words of excuse.

JEROME. For truly that which is written, To offer excuses excusing sins (Ps. 141:4.) happened to this servant, so that to slothfulness and idleness was added also the sin of pride. For he who ought to have honestly acknowledged his fault, and to have entreated the Master of the household, on the contrary cavils against him, and avers that he did it with provident design, lest while he sought to make profit he should hazard the capital.

ORIGEN. This servant seems to me to have been one of those who believe, but do not act honestly, concealing their faith, and doing every thing that they may not be known to be Christians. They who are such seem to me to have a fear of God, and to regard Him as austere and implacable. We indeed understand how the Lord reaps where He sowed not, because the righteous man sows in the Spirit, whereof he shall reap life eternal. Also He reaps where He sowed not, and gathers where he scattered not, because He counts as bestowed upon Himself all that is sown among the poor.

JEROME. Also, by this which this servant dared to say, Thou, reapest where thou sowedst not, we understand that the Lord accepts the good life of the Gentiles and of the Philosophers.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But there are many within the Church of whom this servant is a type, who fear to set out on the path of a better life, and yet are not afraid to continue in carnal indolence; they esteem themselves sinners, and therefore tremble to take up the paths of holiness, but fearlessly remain in their own iniquities.

HILARY. Or, By this servant is understood the Jewish people which continues in the Law, and says I was afraid of thee, as through fear of the old commandments abstaining from the exercise of evangelical liberty; and it says, Lo, there is that is thine, as though it had continued in those things which the Lord commanded, when yet it knew that the fruits of righteousness should be reaped there, where the Law had not been sown, and that there should be gathered from among the Gentiles some who were not scattered of the seed of Abraham.

JEROME. But what he thought would be his excuse is turned into his condemnation. He calls him wicked servant, because he cavilled against his Lord; and slothful, because he would not double his talent; condemning his pride in the one, and his idleness in the other. If you knew me to be hard and austere, and to seek after other men’s goods, you should also have known that I exact with the more rigour that is mine own, and should have given my money to the bankers; for the Greek word here (ἀζγύριον) means money. The words of the Lord are pure words, silver tried in the fire. (Ps. 12:6.) The money, or silver, then are the preaching of the Gospel and the heavenly word; which ought to be given to the bankers, that is, either to the other doctors, which the Apostles did when they ordained Priests and Bishops throughout the cities; or to all the believers, who can double the sum and restore it with usury by fulfilling in act what they have learned in word.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 4.) So then we see as well the peril of the teachers if they withhold the Lord’s money, as that of the hearers from whom is exacted with usury that they have heard, namely, that from what they have heard they should strive to understand that they have not heard.

ORIGEN. The Lord did not allow that He was a hard man as the servant supposed, but He assented to all his other words. But He is indeed hard to those who abuse the mercy of God to suffer themselves to become remiss, and use it not to be converted.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Let us hear now the sentence by which the Lord condemns the slothful servant, Take away from him the talent, and give it to him that hath ten talents.

ORIGEN. The Lord is able by the might of His divinity to take away his ability from the man who is slack to use it, and to give it to him who has improved his own.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 5.) It might seem more seasonable to have given it rather to him who had two, than to him who had five. But as the five talents denote the knowledge of things without, the two understanding and action, he who had the two had more than he who had the five talents; this man with his five talents merited the administration of things without, but was yet without any understanding of things eternal. The one talent therefore, which we say signifies the intellect, ought to be given to him who had administered well the things without which he had received; the same we see happen every day in the Holy Church, that they who administer faithfully things without, are also mighty in the in ward understanding.

JEROME. Or, it is given to him who had gained five talents, that we may understand that though the Lord’s joy over the labour of each be equal, of him who doubled the five as of him who doubled the two, yet is a greater reward due to him who laboured more in the Lord’s money.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 6.) Then follows a general sentence, For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not, even that which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. For whosoever has charity receives the other gifts also; but whosoever has not charity loses even the gifts which he seemed to have had.

CHRYSOSTOM. Also he who has the graces of eloquence and of teaching to profit withal, and uses it not, loses that grace; but he who does his endeavour in putting it to use acquires a larger share.

JEROME. Many also who are naturally clever and have sharp wit, if they become neglectful, and by disuse spoil that good they have by nature, these do, in comparison of him who being somewhat dull by nature compensates by industry and painstaking his backwardness, lose their natural gift, and see the reward promised them pass away to others. But it may also be understood thus; To him who has faith, and a right will in the Lord, even if he come in aught short in deed as being man, shall be given by the merciful Judge; but he who has not faith, shall lose even the other virtues which he seems to have naturally. And He says carefully, From him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have, for whatsoever is without faith in Christ ought not to be imputed to him who uses it amiss, but to Him who gives the goods of nature even to a wicked servant.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Or, Whoso has not charity, loses even those things which he seems to have received.

HILARY. And on those who have the privilege of the Gospels, the honour of the Law is also conferred, but from him who has not the faith of Christ is taken away even that honour which seemed to be his through the Law.

CHRYSOSTOM. The wicked servant is punished not only by loss of his talent, but by intolerable infliction, and a denunciation in accusation joined therewith.

ORIGEN. Into outer darkness, where is no light, perhaps not even physical light; and where God is not seen, but those who are condemned thereto are condemned as unworthy the contemplation of God. We have also read some one before us expounding this of the darkness of that abyss which is outside the world, as though unworthy of the world, they were cast out into that abyss, where is darkness with none to lighten it.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) And thus for punishment he shall be cast into outer darkness who has of his own free will fallen into inward darkness.

JEROME. What is weeping and gnashing of teeth we have said above.

CHRYSOSTOM. Observe that not only he who robs others, or who works evil, is punished with extreme punishment, but he also who does not good works.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. ix. 7.) Let him then who has understanding look that he hold not his peace; let him who has affluence not be dead to mercy; let him who has the art of guiding life communicate its use with his neighbour; and him who has the faculty of eloquence intercede with the rich for the poor. For the very least endowment will be reckoned as a talent entrusted for use.

ORIGEN. If you are offended at this we have said, namely that a man shall be judged if he does not teach others, call to mind the Apostle’s words, Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel. (1 Cor. 9:16.)

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
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