Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gospel for Wednesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: Dedication of the Roman Basilicas of Peter and Paul, Apostles

From: Luke 19:11-28

Parable of the Pounds
[11] As they heard these things, He (Jesus) proceeded to tell a parable, because He was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately. [12] He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive kingly power and then return. [13] Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, `Trade with these till I come.' [14] But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.' [15] When he returned, having received the kingly power, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. [16] The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.' [17] And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' [18] And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' [19] And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.' [20] Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; [21] for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' [22] He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? [23] Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?' [24] And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.' [25] (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!') [26] `I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [27] But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'"

The Messiah Enters the Holy City
[28] And when He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

11. The disciples had a wrong concept of the Kingdom of Heaven: they thought it was about to happen and they saw it in earthly terms: they envisaged Jesus conquering the Roman tyrant and immediately establishing the Kingdom in the holy city of Jerusalem, and that when that happened they would hold privileged positions in the Kingdom. There is always a danger of Christians failing to grasp the transcendent, supernatural character of the Kingdom of God in this world, that is, the Church, which "has but one sole purpose--that the Kingdom of God may come and the salvation of the human race may be accomplished." (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 45).

Through this parable our Lord teaches us that, although His reign has begun, it will only be fully manifested later on. In the time left to us we should use all the resources and graces God gives us, in order to merit the reward.

13. The "mina", here translated as "pound", was worth about 35 grammes of gold. This parable is very like the parable of the talents reported in St. Matthew (cf. 25:14-30).

14. The last part of this verse, although it has a very specific context, reflects the attitude of many people who do not want to bear the sweet yoke of our Lord and who reject Him as king. "There are millions of people in the world who reject Jesus Christ in this way; or rather they reject His shadow, for they do not know Christ. They have not seen the beauty of His face; they do not realize how wonderful His teaching is. This sad state of affairs makes me want to atone to our Lord. When I hear that endless clamor--expressed more in ignoble actions than in words--I feel the need to cry out, `He must reign!' (1 Corinthians 15:25)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 179).

17. God counts on our fidelity in little things, and the greater our effort in this regard the greater the reward we will receive: "Because you have been `in pauca fidelis', faithful in small things, come and join in your Master's happiness. The words are Christ's. `In pauca fidelis!... Now will you neglect little things, if Heaven itself is promised to those who mind them?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 819).

24-26. God expects us to strive to put to good use the gifts we have received--and He lavishly rewards those who respond to His grace. The king in the parable is shown to be very generous towards his servants--and generous in rewarding those who managed to increase the money they were given. But he is very severe towards the lazy servant who was also the recipient of a gift from his Lord, who did not let it erode but guarded it carefully--and for this his king criticizes him: he failed to fulfill the just command the king gave him when he gave him the money: "Trade till I come." If we appreciate the treasures the Lord has given us--life, the gift of faith, grace--we will make a special effort to make them bear fruit--by fulfilling our duties, working hard and doing apostolate. "Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 1).

28. Normally in the Gospels when there is mention of going to the Holy City it is in terms of "going up" to Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 20:18; John 7:8), probably because geographically the city is located on Mount Zion. Besides, since the temple was the religious and political center, going up to Jerusalem had also a sacred meaning of ascending to the holy place, where sacrifices were offered to God.

Particularly in the Gospel of St. Luke, our Lord's whole life is seen in terms of a continuous ascent towards Jerusalem, where His self-surrender reaches its high point in the redemptive sacrifice of the Cross. Here Jesus is on the point of entering the city, conscious of the fact that His passion and death are imminent.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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