Saturday, August 07, 2010

Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:32-48

Trust in God's Fatherly Providence (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [32] "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [33] Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. [34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The Need for Vigilance and the Parable of the Steward (Continuation)
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [35] "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, [36] and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. [37] Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. [39] If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!" [40] You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

[41] Peter said, "Lord are you telling this parable for us or for all?" [42] And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? [43] Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. [44] Truly I tell you, he will set him over all his possessions. [45] But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, [46] the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. [47] And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. [48] But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more."

33-34. Our Lord concludes this address by insisting on those imperishable goods to which we should aspire. In this connection the Second Vatican Council concludes its teaching on the universal call to holiness saying: "Therefore all the faithful are invited and obliged to holiness and perfection of their own state of life. Accordingly let all of them see that they direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect love by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty, following the Apostle's advice: Let those who use this world not fix their abode in it, for the form of this world is passing away (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:31)" ("Lumen Gentium", 42).

"When Holy Scripture refers to the heart, it does not refer to some fleeting sentiment of joy or tears. By heart it means the person who directs his whole being, soul and body, to what he considers his good, as Jesus himself indicated: 'For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also' (Matthew 6:21)" (St. J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 164). Our Lord's teaching is quite clear: man's heart yearns to possess wealth, a good social position, prestigious public or professional appointments, which he sees as providing him with security, contentment and self-affirmation; however, this kind of treasure involves endless worry and disappointment, because there is always a danger of losing it. Jesus does not mean that man should forget about earthly things, but he does teach us that no created thing should become our "treasure", our main in life: that should be God, our Creator and Lord, whom we should love and serve as we go about our ordinary affairs, putting our hopes on the eternal joy of heaven. See also the note on Matthew 6:19-21.

[The note on Matthew 6:19-21 states:

19-21. The idea here is very clear: man's heart yearns for a treasure which will give him security and happiness. However, every treasure in the form of earthly goods--wealth, property--becomes a constant source of worry, because there is always the risk we will lose it or because the effort to protect it is such a strain.

Against this, Jesus teaches us here that our true treasure lies in good works and an upright life, which will be eternally rewarded by God in Heaven. That indeed is a treasure which one never loses, a treasure on which Christ's disciple should put his heart.

Jesus closes the teaching contained in the preceding verses with a kind of refrain (verse 21). He is not saying that people should be unconcerned about earthly things; what He does say is that no created thing can be "the treasure", the ultimate aim, of man. What man should do is make his way to God, sanctify himself and give all glory to God, by making right use of the noble things of the earth: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31; cf. Colossians 3:17).]

35-39. In the preaching of Christ and of the Apostles we are frequently exhorted to be watchful (cf. Matthew 24:42; 25:13; Mark 14:34) -- for one thing, because the enemy is always on the prowl (cf. 1 Peter 5:8), and also because a person in love is always awake (cf. Song of Songs 5:2). This watchfulness expresses itself in a spirit of prayer (cf. Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 4:7) and fortitude in faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13). See the note on Matthew 25:1-13.

[The note on Matthew 25:1-13 states:

1-13. The main lesson of this parable has to do with the need to be on the alert: in practice, this means having the light of faith, which is kept alive with the oil of charity. Jewish weddings were held in the house of the bride's father. The virgins are young unmarried girls, bridesmaids who are in the bride's house waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. The parable centers on the attitude one should adopt up to the time when the bridegroom comes. In other words, it is not enough to know that one is "inside" the Kingdom, the Church: one has to be on the watch and be preparing for Christ's coming by doing good works.

This vigilance should be continuous and unflagging, because the devil is forever after us, prowling around "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). "Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, watch with good works [...]; make ready the lamps, make sure they do not go out [...], renew them with the inner oil of an upright conscience; then shall the Bridegroom enfold you in the embrace of His love and bring you into His banquet room, where your lamp can never be extinguished" (St. Augustine, "Sermon", 93).]

35. To enable them to do certain kinds of work the Jews used to hitch up the flowing garments they normally wore. "Girding your loins" immediately suggests a person getting ready for work, for effort, for a journey etc. (cf. Jeremiah 1:17; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13). Similarly, "having your lamps burning" indicates the sort of attitude a person should have who is on the watch or is waiting for someone's arrival.

40. God has chosen to hide from us the time of our death and the time when the world will come to an end. Immediately after death everyone undergoes the Particular Judgment: "just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (Hebrews 9:27). The end of the world is when the General Judgment will take place.

41-48. After our Lord's exhortation to vigilance, St. Peter asks a question (verse 41), the answer to which is the key to understanding this parable. On the one hand, Jesus emphasizes that we simply do not know exactly when God is going to ask us to render an account of our life; on the other -- answering Peter's question -- our Lord explains that His teaching is addressed to every individual. God will ask everyone to render an account of his doings: everyone has a mission to fulfill in this life and he has to account for it before the judgment seat of God and be judged on what he has produced, be it much or little.

"Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed (cf. Hebrews 9:27), we may merit to enter with Him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed (cf. Matthew 25:31-46) and not, like the wicked and slothful servants (cf. Matthew 25:26), be ordered to depart into the eternal fire (cf. Matthew 25:41)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 48).
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, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

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