Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time in the year C

Posté par diaconos le 3 août 2022

Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give  you the kingdom.

The parable about the Return of the Master encourages the Christian to follow the path of the cardinal and theological virtues in his life. The first verse alone sums up this parable: one must be chaste and follow the virtues. The lamp echoes this verse: « Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. » In this parable the thief represents death, according to the Doctor of the Church Gregory the Great who explained it in his homily 13 1.

This successor to the ministry of the Apostle Peter specified, in chapter 5 of this homily, that one must know how to do penance in order not to die damned. The Son of Man is an eschatological figure in use in Judaic apocalyptic circles from the post-exilic period. In the Gospels, it is the title most often used by Jesus when he speaks of himself. Its earliest attestation is in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, dated to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, shortly before the Maccabean revolt (around 160 BC)

From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke

At that time Jesus said to his disciples : « Do not be afraid, little flock, your Father has seen fit to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give it away as alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where the thief does not come, where the moth does not destroy. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Stay in your service clothes, with your belt around your waist and your lamps burning.

Be like people who wait for their master when he returns from the wedding, to open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks on the door. Blessed are those servants whom the master will find watching when he arrives. Amen, I say to you, he will seat them at the table with his belt around his waist and will come and serve them. If he comes back around midnight or three o’clock in the morning and finds them like this, happy are they !

You know that : if the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let the wall of his house be pierced. You too must be ready, for in an hour when you do not think about it, the Son of Man will come. Then Peter said, « Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to all? » The Lord answered, « What about the faithful and wise steward to whom the master entrusts the care of his staff to distribute the food ration in due time?

Happy is that servant whom his master, when he comes, finds doing so ! I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if the servant says to himself, ‘My master is slow in coming,’ and begins to beat the servants and the maids, and to eat and drink and get drunk, then when the master comes, on the day when his servant does not expect it and at the hour he does not know, he will turn him away and make him share the fate of the unbelievers.

The servant who knew his master’s will but made no preparations and did not carry it out will receive a great many blows. But he who did not know it, but he who did not know it, and who deserved a beating for his conduct, will receive only a few. To whom much has been given, much will be required; to whom much has been entrusted, more will be demanded. (Lc 12, 32-48)

Be ready !

« Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Lk 12, 40) The second or third watch was from nine to midnight, or from midnight to three. If the servants were vigilant until then, happy were they! It was no longer the master the servants were waiting for; it was the thief who came at the most unexpected hour and forced the master of the house to watch. He did not, and so the thief broke in.

Peter said : « Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to all? « (Lk 12:41) But to which parable did Peter refer ? Jesus’ answer showed that Peter had the former in mind. He wanted to know whether the position of trust assigned to the servants, and especially the high distinction promised to them, would be shared by all the disciples of Jesus, or only by his apostles. In asking his question, Peter looked back on himself and his fellow disciples with complacency, thinking of the high destinies that the future held for them.

Jesus, in his own shrewd way, did not give a direct answer to his disciple’s question ;  he took up and continued the parable of the servants, but by naming one of them whom he would set up as a steward over his household.

In his own shrewd way, Jesus did not give a direct answer to his disciple’s question; he took up and continued the parable of the servants, but pointed to one of them whom he would appoint as a steward over his servants ; he described his reward if he was faithful, but also his severe punishment if he became unfaithful. Thus, he gave Peter this serious warning: « Instead of worrying about this matter, consider your future position with fear and trembling » (Meyer)

Finally, Jesus laid down a universal rule of retribution which concerned everyone in his kingdom and which everyone should take to heart. Jesus answered his disciple with another question, the solution of which the disciple had to seek in his own heart : « Who is this faithful and prudent steward ? Will it be you ? Happy if it is ! This picrure, that he will set him over all his possessions, was supplied to Jesus by the parable, but it showed that the faithful steward, after having occupied a high position in the kingdom of Christ on earth, will possess the highest degree of activity and felicity in the future economy of perfection.

« My master tarrieth to come »: such was the cause of this servant’s slackness and unfaithfulness. He ceased to watch, and his master came on a day and at an hour when he did not expect him and did not know. Matthew and Mark indicate the moral significance of this punishment by saying what the part of this wicked servant was: it was, according to Luke, to be with the unfaithful, according to Matthew, « with the hypocrites ». The expression of Luke was the most in keeping with the whole of this teaching; but that of Matthew had its reason for being.

« But he who has not known it, and has done things worthy of punishment, shall be beaten with few strokes. And to whom much has been given, much will be required; and to whom much has been entrusted, more will be required. (Lk 12, 48) Nothing is more just than this rule of retribution. To know God’s will and not to do it is to rebel against that will and to assume the highest degree of guilt.

He who has not known this will is less guilty, but he is not, for that reason, innocent ; he will be beaten little, but he will be beaten. Why ? Not because of his ignorance, unless his ignorance was voluntary, but because he has done things worthy of punishment. And what man has not done so ? The Lord, like Paul, seemed to take into account the natural lights, which would be sufficient for man to know the will of God if they were not obscured by sin.

But it remains true that there will be very different degrees of punishment for the reprobate, just as there will be very different degrees of happiness for the redeemed of Jesus. The idea is always that of a servant who has not only not been ready, but has not prepared for the arrival of his master. The more abundant God’s gifts to a man were, the more he was entrusted with the advancement of God’s reign, the more faithfulness, activity and work will be demanded of him.

I have come: this expression, frequent in Saint John, is also found in the synoptics ; Jesus used it in the awareness of his pre-existence. What is this fire that he came to throw on the earth, where it did not exist before him, where it would never have been lit without him? This fire is nothing other than the turmoil of the spirits and the divisions of which Jesus spoke.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Visitation North  – Spirituality Center : klik kere to read the paper →  Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

◊ Loyola Press   : klik kere to read the paper →  Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

  Video Mass with Fr. Mike Schmitz

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