24 Pentecost, Nov. 19

Judges 4:1-7 or Zeph. 1:7, 12-18
Ps. 123 or Ps. 90:1-8 (9-11), 12
1 Thess. 5:1-11Matt. 25:14-30

“God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). This bears repeating, as wrath seems to roar in the readings appointed for the last weeks of the Church year and the beginning of Advent. “God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation though our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are here, in church, presenting ourselves before God in full confidence that we have an inheritance with the saints in light, salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are also here to keep time, to watch, to observe ourselves with an honest eye. We are here to admit what we have done and left undone in the short time we all have. “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Ps. 90:10). The call of God upon our lives, the gifts that God has bestowed on us, and the demand that we do some good work in the world in the limited time we have will — if wasted, if squandered, if hidden — bear fruit in what the Bible calls the Day of the Lord. “The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:14-15).

Are we awake to the passing of time? Are we vigilant in the moment? “For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). Are we careful and thoughtful, alert to the promptings of grace in our lives, and diligent and prudent in our use of time? In the world of the Bible, God’s wrath falls upon those who are at ease, who rest complacently, who squander the preciousness of their lives. How are we living?

Jesus tells a story about a man who entrusted his servant with his property. One servant is given five talents, another is given two, and a third is given one. The first two servants invest their talents and, when the master returns, return the talents with interest, for which they are commended and called to “enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). The servant with one talent, fearing the severity of the master, shows extreme caution. He digs a hole in the ground and hides the talent. That is, he fails to use it, to invest it, to make it prosper. Are we at ease, complacent, lazy? Do we tell ourselves we have all the time in the world?

Salvation is a gift, but a gift that is worked out in time. It is a life lived to the glory of God. These hard lessons are saying that we each have something to do. “For this end God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body, and mind, and understanding, that we might use all these things, both for our own salvation, and for our neighbor’s advantage” (John Chrysostom, Homily LXXVII, on the Gospel of St. Matthew). It is a beautiful part of our salvation to be told that God has work for us to do in the world. It is a blessing to till and keep, to labor for God and for the world. Be bold to invest.

Look It Up
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

Think About It
In your work, remember to wear faith, love, and hope.