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“Be Ready”

Ordinary 19     Year C

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
www.hebrewcatholic.org.nz

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St. Luke 12: 32 — 48

 

Our Approach

If you find the whole text of this reading to be too long, any of the three sections could be taken

The reading divides reasonably well into three sections:

a) Verses 32 — 34

b) Verses 35 — 40

c) Verses 41 — 48

We will concentrate on the first section and follow this with a few main ideas from the rest of the text.

Verses 41 — 48 can be difficult for some to understand. We offer a distillation of the meaning or underlying intent of our Lord’s instructions.

 

Introduction

Our Lord had been instructing both the disciples and wider gathering in the parable of the Rich Fool: “Your life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”.

“Watch out — be on guard against all kinds of greed”.

After this He took the disciples aside and continued to instruct them on their future mission. Thus, in the New Testament we note that in Verses 22 — 31 He encourages them very convincingly from nature, how they must not pursue riches, but trust in God:

“Consider the lilies — how they grow. They do not labour or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed
like one of these.”

Now he turns their minds to think about their attitude to the future. In doing this, he focuses their attention on his second coming — i.e. his return, which will take everyone by surprise. And so, again the warning:

“Be ready: Watch” this time not in connection with what you have got but what you are doing.

Click here for a printable copy of the text.

 

Some Reflections On Our Text

A. Verses 32 34

Verse 32

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your
Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Often as we follow our Lord in His teaching he builds to a great climax and then announces some great truth. On this occasion he seems to begin this unit of teaching with a great and awesome declaration:

“Do not be afraid, little flock for your Father has resolved, indeed
has chosen, according to His good pleasure, to give you the
Kingdom. This means He has chosen to grant you participation
in the divine rule.”                                     (Paraphrased)

Nothing had ever been heard like this before. How could a “little flock” possess a Kingdom?

Verses 33 and 34

Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for
yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure
in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

In a sense, our Lord said His Father has given the followers of Jesus everything possible as their inheritance, despite obvious appearances. Although there is a time lag, they will, in due course, share in the Divine Rule over all creation. The followers of Jesus can therefore dismiss all fear respecting their daily wants. If it is God’s good pleasure to give them the great gift of the Kingdom, will He not give them all things pertaining to the life which they must pass through before they can come to the full enjoyment of this Kingdom.

Jesus therefore makes the very bold statement above and rounds it off with one of his short, succinct principles of the spiritual life:

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

We all know of some great saints who took our Lord’s words very literally and sold or gave away everything except the clothes they were standing in! This was God’s expectation of them and they chose to respond in this way. Some of us feel guilty when we read about their heroic charity and feel bad that we can’t bring ourselves to do the same. But we should not feel that way. It would be a wrong interpretation of the teaching of Jesus and result from a mere lifting His words out of the text without listening to the whole of the message, which He bequeathed to His Church.

Very well: What is the meaning for those who really wants to understand these verses?

Our Lord states (so clearly):

“Sell your belongings and give alms (i.e. give to the needy).”

Christians are not obliged generally by this precept, i.e we do not have to go off and sell everything we own. Rather we are all to be ready at the call and command of God to part with any or all of our possessions, for such uses as God should show us. This complements His teaching not to set out hearts on riches, not to look on anything we have as our own. Jesus never condemned earthly possessions, but insisted we see them as gifts lent to us by God, to be devoted to His service.

For 2000 years the saints have shown us how they were inspired (and helped) by the Holy Spirit to place their “treasure in heaven” by self-sacrifice and good works. These are the ones who really believed and trusted in our Lord who declared, “Your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom!”

B. Verses 35 40

“Gird your loins and light your lamps

and be like servants who await their master’s return from
a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes
and knocks.

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant
on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have
them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.

And should he come in the second or third watch and
find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known
the hour when the thief was coming, he would not
have let his house be broken into.

You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not
expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Our Lord then moves on to underpin what he requires with the attitudes we need to have, if we are ever going to build up “treasure in heaven.”

He begins in Verse 35 by saying, “Lose clothing must be fastened to
your waists”. He might have said,

“Have your sleeves rolled up, and look as though you mean
business — that you mean what you are doing! You must be
prepared for action! To stay on course and not deviate from the
path I am leading you along, you must be ready to encounter
resistance and obstructions. Take that as normal.”

Almost in the same breath, Jesus makes one of the most wonderful and encouraging promises ever heard from His lips, if we may paraphrase:

“Those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes,
will be richly blessed. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron,
sit them down at table and wait on them.”

Of course, we are to interpret this in the spirit in which Our Lord speaks.

There is no degree of honour and glory, which the Lord Jesus will not gladly bestow on those who are found ready to meet Him in the day of His second advent!

Our Lord completes this section of His teaching by emphasising a third time that His followers “must be ready” when the master returns. The coming of the Son of Man is the second personal advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, at the end of this age, this dispensation. Not to put too fine a point on it, our focus is to remain on the Lord Himself rather than the act of returning. Much contemporary, popular media preaching gets the emphasis distorted.

So, let’s keep in mind our Lord’s warning to remain “watching” not as a spectator, but rather being “awake”, alert to the dangerous misrepresentations of our society, and active in pursuing true spiritual insight: seeing things as they really are — not being hoodwinked!

Our Lord then moves on to cover some finer details and practical consequences, in the final section of our text.

C. Verses 41 48

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for
everyone?”

And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent
steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time?

Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds
doing so.

Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed
in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the
maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk,

then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected
day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make
preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten
severely;

and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but
acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten
only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted
with much, and still more will be demanded of the person
entrusted with more.

This single mention of Peter (Verse 41) in the so-called “journey narrative” suggests that he is the steward in charge of the staff of servants in the parable which follows. Our Lord’s comments suggest that for him as well all such leaders who succeeded him., and even all who share in a lesser degree of leadership, must retain their focus on Him knowing He will return, and that He expects to find them doing what He laid down. In effect He warns that over a period of time, many things may change and seem, on appearances, to justify an adaptation of His teaching to suit the times and popular demand. His underlying theme might be expressed like this:

“Woe betide the leaders who take their attention off my vision and
substitute one of their own making — and use their position to
lord it over others and thereby mislead them as well!”

Our Lord is training the leadership in His Church to remain focused on Him at all times, and He knows they will find this difficult. Not all will succeed. If any person enlists in His service and does not take their responsibility seriously, they must expect to be corrected to the degree necessary. These verses have a very special application to the corruption of the traditional teaching of the Church which has been growing for some centuries. We must not be hoodwinked!

 

Conclusion

We should always remember that Jesus began this section of teaching with a most astounding explanation that the Kingdom has already been given to His disciples. Thus it is that He provides the strongest possible motivation for us to compensate for any spiritual paralysis that may be lurking in the shadows. His antidote for dealing with this is to ensure we keep our heart steadfastly attached to the only goal that can ever satisfy the human heart: being with Him in paradise forever.

“Where your treasure is there also your heart will be.”

Prayer of Confession:

Most high,
Most good,
Most mighty
Most almighty;
Most merciful and most just,
Most hidden and most present,
Most beautiful and most strong,
Unchangeable yet changing all things;
Never new and never old.
You have made us for yourself, O God,
And our heart is restless, until it rests in you.

(Saint Augustine: Confessions)

 

Shalom!

 

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — Ordinary 19 ― Year C

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.

To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

This website is highly recommended:

 

Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature

(Mark 16: 15)

Let us remember God’s teaching, contained in His Word and in doing
so, remain close to Him. The following are only examples illustrating
how you can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights for your on-going
reflection.

The real Jesus, is the real answer to the real needs of the world!

“Be Ready”

Ordinary 19     Year C           Luke 12: 32 — 48

1    The Kingdom of God is ours, says Our Lord Jesus Christ. Believe in that,
      He implies, and you will keep your focus on what is truly worthy of your
      attention. Paradoxically by giving spiritual realities the first place in our lives,
      we do not weaken our attention to the needs of others around us. On the
      contrary, our perception of real needs will be heightened and our attention
      to them will therefore be more focussed and fruitful.

2    Jesus Messiah spends a lot of His teaching time encouraging His followers
      to “remain vigilant”. In other words, He places a lot of emphasis on training
      His followers to prepare for His Return, when the Kingdom will be brought
      to perfect completion. Those who fail to do so, He warns, will not bother to
      carry out His teaching, but will squander their lives in worldly
      pleasure-seeking. Anyone, He hints, could be drawn into that trap. We must
      remain vigilant and not be hoodwinked by fake religion or fake political and
      and economic philosophies which can bring only ruin.

3    “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still
      more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Applied
      to us as members of His Church, we would surely have to see ourselves as
      having been privileged to receive the Faith. Clearly, Our Lord is conveying a
      very strong message. He calls us to literally “get to work” and propagate
      His teaching wherever it will take root. And, to keep at it while we look to
      and wait for His Glorious Return.

             Let us pray for one another to have the courage and determination to keep
             on keeping on and bear patiently with stresses and strains brought upon us
             by loyalty to Jesus Christ.

Shalom!

 Click here for a printable copy of these reflections

 

 Luke 12: 32 — 48

Ordinary 19          Year C

 NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

32     Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased
         to give you the kingdom.

33     Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for
         yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in
         heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.

34     For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

35     8 “Gird your loins and light your lamps

36     and be like servants who await their master’s return from a
         wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.

37     Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his
         arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline
         at table, and proceed to wait on them.

38     And should he come in the second or third watch and find them
         prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.

39     Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour
         when the thief was coming, 9 he would not have let his house be
         broken into.

40     You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the
         Son of Man will come.”

41     Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

42     And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent
         steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to
         distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time?

43     Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.

44     Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.

45     But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in
         coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the
         maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk,

46     then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and
         at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign
         him a place with the unfaithful.

47     That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make
         preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten
         severely;

48     and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in
         a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.
         Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still
         more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

8 [35-48] This collection of sayings relates to Luke’s understanding of the end time and the return of Jesus. Luke emphasizes for his readers the importance of being faithful to the instructions of Jesus in the period before the parousia.

9 [45] My master is delayed in coming: this statement indicates that early Christian expectations for the imminent return of Jesus had undergone some modification. Luke cautions his readers against counting on such a delay and acting irresponsibly. Cf the similar warning in Matthew 24:48.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright
owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may
be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the
copyright owner.

 

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