Anyone who has ever visited an old cemetery has seen how there was once great care taken in writing epitaphs, short little sayings, engraved on the headstone. These epitaphs often capture the essence of the deceased’s life. Some very pithy, often amusing and even whimsical, others profound and full of praise. As we come to the end of this liturgical year, The Church moves us towards reflecting on the great questions of life and death. As we hear today’s readings, The Holy Spirit may prod us to ponder what may be said about us after we are gone. Give the opportunity, what would those we leave behind chisel on our headstones, what may be remembered for?
Our other readings today can give us some good ideas of what we should want as our legacy. The first reading from the Book of Proverb, tell of the ideal woman, gifted not just with physical attributes, but with gif of ingenuity, hard work,generosity and love of others. She is presented as a model of what is possible when someone uses their gifts as skills well. The point of that reading lies not in the fact that she is gifted, but in what she chooses to do with those gifts and skills.
The Gospel take up this theme in the parable of the three servants entrusted with their master’ s talents. In this case,a talent was a coin of great value. To be entrusted with five, two or even one talent meant to be entrusted with something of great value.
As we hear the Gospel passage, we may be drawn to side with the little guy, the one who simply buried the talent and presented it back to his master. After all, he did show some degree of prudence and care in dealing with another’s property. As we know from the current economic climate, the cautious, and even timid, approach can often be that better path. Yet, as with many of the parables of Jesus, he ultimately turns the story upside down. In a twist of events. The little guy ends up losing everything, including what was entrusted to him. All is taken away and give to the others, for only those who take risks in faith are given greater responsibilities and ultimately invited to share the Master’s joy.,
So what is moral of the parable for us? If we see this as an exhortation to work diligently and without fear for the return of Christ, then now is the time to use all that God has placed at our disposal to this end. Now is the time to use our gifts, talents, our sense of hope and our commitment to charity for the sake of the Gospel. This is the sacred task entrusted to each Christian by virtue of Baptism- to invest ourselves totally in the work of the Kingdom and to bring others to Christ.
Today, as we are encouraged to reflect on our own inevitable death, we are to access how well we are fulfilling “tis task. We are to live each day as if this were the day the Master is calling us to account. If today were that day, what would our epitaph say? Would it announce that we were a bold servant of God, using all we were given to build up his Kingdom on earth? If this is not what it would say, now is the time to make a change.
May God bless you all.
Your brother in Christ