In the readings for this Sunday, Nov. 19, God offers us the beautiful image of his Church as a loving bride. We’re reminded that, in our deep and loving relationship with God, we are invited to be our most authentic, resourceful, and fruitful selves.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The readings for this Sunday, Nov. 19, are a reminder of God’s protective, fulfilling love. Recalling the image from the Jewish Scriptures of our relationship with God being like a marriage, our readings invite us further up and farther in to our experience of God’s care. They also help us to understand how we can respond to that love in our every day lives, taking the resources that God has given us, and using them for the benefit of others. We’re reminded to be courageous and trusting that God will help us accomplish whatever God calls us to.
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.
‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
It’s week 33 of the liturgical year—that means that next week is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe; and right after that, Advent. As we come to the close of the liturgical year, our readings focus on our responsibility to respond to God’s love for us by being who God made us to be in the fullest ways possible. Our first reading, from the book of Proverbs, tells of a worthy wife. It talks about how blessed a family is when it has a good woman at the helm, but is also a reminder of who the Church is; the Bride of Christ. Throughout Scripture, God uses a marital relationship as an image for God’s relationship with us. God wants us to know that we’ll always be loved and protected by him, just like a good husband does for his wife and family. Our Church should, as the “wife” of God, reach out in charity and use our resources to serve our families and the poor as this woman in the Scripture does.This image is also a reminder that our families are meant to be “little churches”.
The second reading follows the theme of last week’s charge to “be ready”. We look forward to the return of the King; Jesus’ Second Coming, but we have no idea when that will be. If we live as “children of the light”, we will be like that bride; good stewards of the household that was entrusted to us, making our homes ready to receive Jesus when he comes to us.
The Gospel is the famous parable of the Talents. Talents were a measure of money in Jesus’ time, but we could just as well apply our understanding of the word “talent” here. The King (God) gives resources to each individual human according to their ability to use them. It’s important to read here that God only expects of us what we’re capable of completing–not more, not less. One servant is give a large sum and doubles the yield. One is given a little less, but does the same. The one who was given least did nothing. He chose not to be useful. Little was expected from him, and yet he wouldn’t even do a little. God knows our ability. God gives each of us some resource, some talent or passion, some ability to make God more present in our world. It’s up to each of us to use what we have for God’s glory. That is living as children of the light. That is being a good steward. That is being most fully, the Bride of Christ.
What are you really good at that you can use to help others?
True humility is knowing what gifts you’ve been given and having the courage and charity to use those gifts in the service of others. Are there any gifts that you’re afraid to use? Are there any that you really enjoy using, and do often? What do you think God’s plan for you might be based on the gifts, talents and passions that you have?
Although Proverbs talks about the virtue of a good wife in today’s reading, husbands can contribute the same values and attributes to a family. How does this resourceful, charitable woman inform my image of the Church? How does it inform my image of my family? Considering the Gospel message of using our resources to the fullest to bring a large return to God, how can my family become better stewards of the gifts that we have been given?
Bonus Question for all three groups:
Who are the actual “worthy wives” in your family? How do the women in your family make your home more like the “little church” that our families are supposed to be?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”