Sunday Sermon for November 19, 2023, the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Prov 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thes 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

In the first reading today, we hear about the value of a worthy wife.  It says her value is beyond the value of pearls and she is an unfailing prize.  For one who is called to this holy vocation of Matrimony, one will find fulfillment and the completion of self in and through the spouse.  This is true for both the husband and the wife, but in the context of this reading, the value of a wife to her husband is presented.

This is of great importance to us, not only because marriage is the vocation to which the majority of the people in the Church are called, but because it is the vocation to which the Church is called.  Remember, in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us that the marriage between a man and a woman symbolizes the marriage between Christ and His Church. 

In the Gospel, we hear about a man who, prior to embarking on a journey, entrusts his possessions to his servants, each according to his ability.  However, when we consider a man entering into a marriage, it is not his possessions that are entrusted to his wife, it is his heart, as we hear in the first reading.  In other words, he gives his entire person to his wife.  Of course, this includes everything he possesses, but the person is of infinitely greater value than his money or material possessions.

When our Lord decided to take a spouse to Himself, He did just this.  But unlike what happens in a marriage between a man and a woman, our Lord literally opened His Heart and poured out all its contents, entrusting it all to His Bride.  The Church, the Spouse of Christ, came into being through the reception of this precious gift.  She has life only because our Lord gave His life to her.  She, in turn, not only receives that life from her Spouse, but she gives her life to Him.  Since her life is His life, the two are truly one, literally sharing the same life.

As members of the Church and members of Christ, each of us has also been entrusted with a participation in this divine life given to us though the sacraments.  Every person needs to consider his or her own response to this gift.  How am I receiving this gift?  Is my heart truly open to receive all the Lord wants to give me?  Am I cooperating with this gift and making it grow through loving and serving God and neighbor?  Am I giving this gift back to Him in return through a life of prayer and seeking deeper union with the Spouse of my soul?

Every member of the Church needs to ask themselves these questions, but for those who are married, these questions also need to be asked with regard to your spouse.  As we see in the Gospel reading today, our Lord is definitely expecting a superior return on His investment.  Just think, He trusts us so much, that He gives Himself, and His life (grace) to us. 

We need to protect this gift, but we cannot bury it in the ground for fear that we might sully or lose the gift somehow.  No, it is a gift of love and it needs to be invested through love.  Remember that love either increases of decreases, so if we bury this treasure, we will lose it, but if we give this gift to others in the disposition with which it was given to us, then it grows and we will have at least double to give back when we see our blessed Lord.

In case there is any fear in our hearts because of our responsibility to develop this gift, we can consider two points from the readings.  In the second reading, St. Paul tells us we are not in darkness for the day to overtake us like a thief.  In other words, if we are united with our Lord in love, we have nothing to fear.  It is true that we live in difficult times, but rather than fearing to bring the love of God into the world, we must understand that the world needs the love of God now more than ever before. 

Secondly, regarding the worthy wife, which the Church is, the verses immediately following the reading say she does not fear the cold because her household is doubly clothed.  God provides for us through the Church by giving us the Sacraments and sanctifying grace.  We are kept on the straight and narrow way by her teaching.  Neither our Lord nor His Spouse is afraid for us to bring Jesus into the world.  We have nothing to fear because our Lord has the best Spouse, and we have the best Mother.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit