The first reading in this evening’s Liturgy isn’t obviously connected with the others. It sings the praises of a faithful and industrious housewife. If we don’t think it is the only way for a woman to show her worth, it does show her displaying a nice balance of care for her family and concern for the poor. And its final praise is perhaps especially worth mention in an age which seems to have inverted proper values: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Need I add that the same thing is true of men?
Of the other readings, the Gospel parable might be taken as an illustration of the final lines of Paul’s letter: “All of you are children of light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” The parable of the rich man who went off on a journey and left his servants sums of money to be kept for him, was originally told by Jesus as an indictment of the religious leaders of his time. They were like the man who had received the money and then gone and buried it, out of fear of losing what had been entrusted to him. He received the master’s condemnation. His audience would have understood Jesus to be criticizing the Scribes for hoarding for themselves the Word of God they were given to care for, burying it in their restrictive and legalistic interpretations, preventing it from being a life-giving force. It is a classic indictment of the fearful conservative, who is so afraid of losing what he has that he buries or imprisons it, and so in effect kills it.