The penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us not only of the end of the liturgical year but also the end of all things, and of the preparation we need to reach heaven. The three readings invite us to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death our Lord will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant… come and share the joy of your master”. Today’s gospel challenges us to ask the questions: are we using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God? Are we doing everything we can to carry out God’s will? The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.
The reflection on wisdom and Christian life continues in the account of the wise and foolish virgins. They are attendants at a wedding banquet, responsible to greet and accompany the groom. When the groom arrives much later than expected, the five foolish virgins are left without enough oil for their lamps, so they are unable to accompany the groom to the wedding celebration. The five wise virgins, who brought extra oil, represent those who have responded to the Lord’s call to faith in a wise manner, preparing themselves for the task at hand with prudence, foresight, alertness and wisdom. As we live out these pensive days of late autumn and look ahead to Advent, let us prepare ourselves by seeking the gift of wisdom and vigilance, and to live even more joyfully in the life we have at present, in firm hope of the life to come.
The central theme of today’s reading is the strong invitation and challenge to render humble, selfless, diligent, committed and loving service to the Lord and to others in the community without expecting honor or rewards. Today’s gospel is a warning against hypocrisy and status-seeking. Service to others is more important than self-promotion, Jesus reminds us. Service, not status, is the mark of a Christian, and true humility is the only position one must seek.