We are living in some dark days. Our days are filled with anxiety and stress. No matter what
your feelings on it (and I have my own), we have been under a health threat for several months
now. We’ve been confined to our homes and told to stay away from each other. We’ve been told
to cover our faces when we go out in public and even, in some states, prohibited from gathering
together to worship or even have family get-togethers.
Our political landscape is fraught with lying and manipulation and propaganda. We are
witnessing, before our very eyes, what may very well be the final days of a democratic election
process. It appears that we are witnessing a naked attempt to undermine our very democratic
From the halls and cathedrals of our churches, we see darkness. We hear vague and modernistic
rhetoric from our leaders and some bishops. In some cases, we see what looks like outright
apostacy and heresy. The true faithful turn their gaze to God and cry out for help.
We are living in dark days.
But the answer to these dark times is not to bury our heads in the sand. We cannot gloss over
things and say “It’s all good.” It’s not all good. And we need to not be afraid to say so. One of
the things we don’t like talking about a lot in the modern Church is judgement.
The Bible is abundantly clear, as was Jesus, that there will be a day of reckoning. Judgement is
coming for those who reject God and His Christ. Our modern-day proclamations of a modern
day “gospel” seems to just leave this part out. After all, everyone will say, we’re not supposed to
“judge others.” Right? In a sense that’s true. However, just because people say we’re not to
judge one another (which isn’t entirely true), it does not then follow that God will not judge us.
If we’re going to preach the gospel to people, we better preach the full gospel. And that means
that there is some “bad news” that accompanies the good news. In fact, one could argue that
without the “bad news,” there is no good news.
Our readings this week seem to spend a lot of time talking about preparation and being ready.
I invite you to read them yourself:
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
There are some really ominous tones to our readings today. I’ll come back to the Proverbs
reading but look at the responsorial Psalm. Fearing the Lord jumps off the lines to me. We don’t
talk, in modern Christianity, about fearing God. I mean, we’ve kinda made Jesus into a hippie
who just wants to buy the world a Coke.
At first, I want us to focus on the Epistle and Gospel reading. First, let’s consider the
Thessalonians. This text has some serious warnings but also hope. Look at the text,
“the day of the Lord shall come, as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and
security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child,
and they shall not escape.”
This sounds not so happy to our modern ears so we either shrug our shoulders or ignore it. We
cannot ignore the warnings of Holy Scripture to us. Yes, these words were penned to a particular
group of believers in the 1st century. But they were also written for our benefit as well. We, like
them, are to be ready and not just sitting around resting on our Christian laurels. But then St.
Paul gives us hope in the very next breath,
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you
are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.”
In our gospel reading, Jesus’ parable has equivalent overtones of warning. He tells a story talking
about good and faithful servants and a servant who was not faithful. It’s easy to see how Jesus is
telling this story about how God the Father had given all these gifts to His people and told them
to be faithful, as one day, the Expected One, the Messiah would come. And that day would be a
day of reckoning.
But this parable is equally about us. We are awaiting the return of the Master also. We are the
servants Jesus has left in charge to invest His gifts of faith, truth, hope and love. And when the
Master returns and the account is called, what shall we report to our Master? How have we
grown the deposit of faith, truth, hope and love? Will we have invested wisely? Will we be
That brings us back to our reading from Proverbs and the Psalm. At first glance, we consider
these texts and we see, in the Psalm reading, these familiar tones of fearing the Lord. But in there
also is a reference to a man whose wife is a “fruitful vine” and children like “olive plants about
thy table” and we wonder what that has to do with our warning passages.
I want you to call to mind that the NT writers, specifically Paul, tells us that marriage is a
mystery and shows us “Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:25-32). Since this is true, we have to read
our Proverbs and Psalm in light of that truth. And then we see. We see how the virtuous woman
(the “wife”) of Proverbs refers to the Bride of Christ.
Her price is far above rubies and the heart of her husband (Christ) safely trusts in her.
She will do Christ good and not evil and works hard for her Bridegroom.
She stretches out her hands to the poor and need.
And she fears the Lord, her Bridegroom.
And that fear is a loved-based fear. It’s a fear based in the goodness of the Lord, her Bridegroom. He is demanding but also loving. The Bridegroom gives of Himself first so that the giving of the Bride is a giving of love, not servitude. He has given the Bride her price and that price was His own life laid down.
How can we not love and serve that Master? How can we not fear and obey the God who comes
to us in our own humanity, living a life of service and humility so that we, by faith in Him, may
be made the servant who hears “well done.” We, by our love for Him, may be given a price far
about rubies and be trusted by our heavenly Bridegroom.
Oh give thanks and fear the Lord our God for His goodness to His Bride, the Church!
Thanks be to God!