Sunday, Nov. 13, is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-20
Today’s readings all tell a similar lesson.
In the Old Testament reading, the ideal wife isn’t the one who avoids doing bad things. The ideal wife is the one who does many good things.
Likewise, in the Gospel, we are told that avoiding doing bad things is not enough. Those who are truly worthy are those who use their talents to accomplish good things.
At least for the sake of today’s lesson, we are told to think of the Lord not so much as a policeman, but as a customer.
Sometimes we think of him as a divine cop who is mainly interested in knowing if we have broken the law or not. He has his ticket book in one hand, his radar gun in the other, and he is watching us like a hawk in case we mess up.
It is true he doesn’t want us to break the law — the second reading makes that clear. But what he is mainly interested in is what we produce, not where we stumble. We can go through life being a “good guy” like the servant in the parable today who had one talent, and if we have nothing to show for it, it will not be enough.
A divine cop would not have had any problem with the one-talent servant. But Our Lord did, because he isn’t a cop. He wants to see us produce for him more and more with the talents he gave us.
That means we have to look for ways to please the Lord in life, not just avoid the things that make him mad.
Today’s first reading, from Proverbs 31, famously gives wives their marching orders. These are the things that a good wife — a “Proverbs 31 wife” — should do to please the Lord in this life.
When we were editors of Faith & Family magazine, we published an excellent essay by Daria Sockey. She stated out loud what so many women have thought: Proverbs 31 sets an awfully high bar for wives.
She wished there was a corresponding passage about “the ideal husband” and decided that, though she was not a divinely inspired biblical author, she would try her hand at it.
Here is Daria Sockey’s “Proverbs 31 Husband”:
“When one finds a worthy husband, his value is beyond high-yield IRAs.
“His wife, entrusting her heart to him, has an unfailing prize.
“He goes forth to a job he may not always like, enduring rush-hour traffic and unpredictable bosses in order to provide for his family.
“He rises before dawn to get the nursing infant, bringing it to his wife, who remains comfy and warm in bed.
“He takes the lead in family prayer, giving good example to his sons.
“He wields dish rag and vacuum in due season and exhorts his sons to do likewise.
“He takes a rowdy preschooler to the back of the church, that his grateful wife may worship the Lord her God in peace.
“He fixes the broken towel rack or installs the new blinds within 48 hours of his wife’s request.
“He relinquishes a favorite televised sporting event to spend the evening with the family God has given him.
“When his wife glumly announces that it’s hot dogs for dinner again, he replies, ‘Great! My favorite!’ and gives her a kiss.
“He says, ‘Gee! You’re pretty!’ at unexpected moments, cheering her heart and renewing her self-confidence.
“Hairlines recede and bifocals may appear, but such a man is forever a hero to his wife.”
Her point is as valid as it is funny: To be a good husband, like being a good wife, means being a kind of hero, willing to put forth the effort necessary not just to avoid doing wrong, but to do positive good.
So, wives, go and be fruitful vines in your husbands’ homes. And husbands, be heroes to your wives. One day when you meet the Lord, he will note everything you did and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. … Come, share your master’s joy.”
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.