First reading Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20,30-31

A perfect wife – who can find her?

A perfect wife – who can find her?
  She is far beyond the price of pearls.
Her husband’s heart has confidence in her,
  from her he will derive no little profit.
Advantage and not hurt she brings him
  all the days of her life.
She is always busy with wool and with flax,
  she does her work with eager hands.
She sets her hands to the distaff,
  her fingers grasp the spindle.
She holds out her hand to the poor,
  she opens her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty;
  the woman who is wise is the one to praise.
Give her a share in what her hands have worked for,
  and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.

Responsorial Psalm 127(128):1-5

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.
O blessed are those who fear the Lord
  and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
  You will be happy and prosper.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
  in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
  around your table.
Indeed thus shall be blessed
  the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
  all the days of your life!

Second reading 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.
  But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.

Gospel Matthew 25:14-30

You have been faithful in small things: come and join in your master’s happiness

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
  ‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
  ‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
  ‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
  ‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
  ‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’


The Responsorial Psalm chosen for today’s Mass begins with the words: ‘Blessed are those who fear the Lord’.

To begin with it is important to realise that whatever ‘Fear of the Lord’ might mean it does not mean that we are to be afraid of God. This is especially clear from the teaching of Jesus who showed us that God is love.

Fear of the Lord includes the idea of trust in God’s love. It also means greatly delighting in God’s commandments. This implies a close intimacy and a deep affection.

‘Fear of the Lord’ then is fear that comes as a grace from the Lord. It is fear that we experience in God’s presence. It is fear that arises from an awareness of how fragile we are.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to fill us with this sense of wonder and awe and reverence.

The experience of wonder and awe in God’s presence does also include an element of fear, but it is not fear concerning God – being afraid of God – but rather fear concerning ourselves – how easy it is for us to sin and so lose God.

The great Saint Bernard writes: ‘The fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom, because the soul begins to experience God for the first time when fear of him takes hold of it, not when knowledge enlightens it. You fear God’s justice, you fear God’s power; and so you experience God as just and powerful. (On the Song of Songs, Sermon 23:14).

We are not to fear God in the sense of being afraid of him as though he was a threat to us. But we are meant to take seriously our capacity to be lost, and how utterly we need God’s grace and forgiveness.

Fr Michael Fallon msc