Homily for 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A

Devoted and Faithful In Waiting For Christ Our Head and Master
Readings: 1st: Prov 31, 10-13.19-20; Ps 127, 1-5; 2nd: 1Thess 5, 1-6; Gos: Matt 25, 14-30

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

As we draw closer and closer to the end of the 2014 liturgical calendar, year A and also, to the beginning of a new one marked by the season of Advent, the church encourages us to remain faithful and dedicated to our Head and Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore as a family of God, with Christ as the head; the Church as the Mother; we (the faithful) as the children; and the angels as the faithful servants waiting on and watching over us, we must be steadfast and united as we hold and celebrate today a feast in honour of Christ the head of our family. We must be ready to bring him the talents of a virtuous woman, devoted children, and faithful servants
Here is a true life story about faithfulness in waiting. Hachiko, was an Akita dog born in 1923 and was owned by Eisaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo. The professor used to take a train from the Shibuya Station every day to go to the university. Each day Hachiko accompanied him to the train station when he left for work. Upon returning, he would find the dog patiently waiting and wagging its tail. This happy routine continued until one fateful day in 1925, when the professor was taken ill on the job and unfortunately died before he could return home. As usual, the dog waited at the train station that day for his master to return back. However, seeing that he was not coming back, Hachiko waited till night fell and retuned back home. The next day Hachiko went back to the train station again, waiting for his master to come back. He patiently waited till sunset and then retuned back home. The dog was so devoted to the professor that he continued to visit the train station everyday for the next ten years! The people who passed the loyal dog each day were so touched by his story that they erected a statue in his honor at the Station in 1934. In 1935, Hachiko died at the very same spot where he used to wait for his master (Extracted from Wikipedia and Fabulous Travel.com). Dear brethrens we have, by virtue of our baptismal vows pledged allegiance to the Lord. Therefore as the faithful Hachiko, we should be faithful to our Head – Jesus Christ.
Our first reading for this Sunday is from proverbs. The virtuous woman of Proverbs radiates as a bright beacon in this wonderful wisdom book of precepts and warnings. The book presents us with the qualities of the virtuous woman, and the term “virtuous” simply refers to strength, efficiency, or ability. Here it refers to strength of character. That is, moral strength and firmness (Ruth 3:11). The virtuous woman is good, faithful, and knows what to do to keep her family intact. In addition, “she holds out her hand to the needy”. Today, the virtuous woman represents two things for us. First, she is the symbol of the Holy Mother Church who leaves no stone unturned in her bid to make sure that she prepares us adequately to meet Christ our Head. The church as the virtuous woman does this through her constant, untiring teachings, admonitions, and through her charitable works. As a mother, the church knows her duty towards her groom Christ and towards us her children. She never and will never go to sleep until she has presented us to Christ worthily. On the other hand, it is a call for us to emulate the qualities of the virtuous woman as we hold today a festival in honor of our head Christ. Like the virtuous woman, it is essential for us to cultivate inner beauty. If this is absent, then, it is impossible to exhibit the strength and efficiency fit enough to wait for Christ our head. We are to be as faithful and devoted to our callings and mission as the virtuous woman is.
In the second reading Paul presents to us a description of the conduct expected from a child of the light. He reminds us of the inevitable – The Lord’s Day. According to him, one of the most significant characteristics of this “Day” is that it will be sudden: “it is when people are saying, ‘how quiet and peaceful it is that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as Labour pain on a pregnant woman…” In order words, Paul is simply encouraging us to be vigilant and active in our preparation for this very day of the Lord. “Gregoreuo” is a Greek word employed by Paul that connotes the idea of a sleeping man rousing himself, so that he is mentally alert and in a state of mind opposite to that which characterizes one’s mind while in sleep, and this is the position we ought to adopt as Christians waiting for their Master. We must be faithful and devoted in good works as the virtuous woman in our first reading. This “Day” must not catch us by surprise because, “to before warn is to be fore armed.” As people of light we must per due in the light and avoid all the snares of darkness. Therefore, as faithful and devoted children of God, we must be about our Father‘s duty without allowing ourselves to be distracted at all. We must live expectantly in the light of Christ our Head’s return, realizing that our works will be judged and that our opportunities for service on earth will end. We must live with eternity’s values in mind and in view all the time. If we do, we will certainly enjoy a better life than those who compromise with the world. We are therefore to live like soldiers in active service (2 Ti 2. 4), and like the virtuous woman working to please her husband and children.
In the gospel, Jesus uses the parable of the talent to equally remind us that given the imminence of his return, each one of us must be ready to render a good account to him as our head. In order words, he has endowed us differently according to our various capacities. He also expects us as devoted and faithful children to render a good account of the “talents” he has endowed us with. While Jesus’ parable challenges all of us to put to full use all the potentials that God has given us for the sake of the kingdom, he most importantly, instructs us his disciples to endure through difficult times and to live in anticipation of His return. Hence, this parable simply reminds us of the inevitability of the Lord’s coming and how we as his disciple ought to live in expectation of his great return. Furthermore, it depicts how we are to display faithfulness as we anticipate the return of Christ our head. Therefore, while we wait for the Lord’s return, it must not be in idealness, but we must be industrious and active by bearing effective witness to Christ while bearing in mind that an account must be demanded from us. It is true that like the three servants, we do not have gifts of the same degree, but God expects of us a result that is commensurate with the gifts he has given to us. So, we must use whatever talents we have been given to the best of our ability for God’s glory, and when we have done that, we are on an equal playing field with other faithful. As trustworthy servants of God we must therefore, avoid a life of indifference, apathy, licentiousness, and complacency towards our mission and work as these will not fetch us any reward from Christ. We are faithful, devoted and wise disciples if only while waiting for Christ’s return, we emulate and expand his ministry. He announced the arrival of God’s kingdom by feeding the hungry, visiting and curing the sick and imprisoned, blessing the meek, serving the least, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger (Mtt. 25:31-46). If we are found faithful in this same ministry, we will definitely hear our master and head say to us when he returns: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Peace be with you all!!

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