Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
1st Reading – Wisdom 18: 6-9
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33: 1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
2nd Reading – Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19
Gospel: Luke 12: 32-48
When Luke wrote this gospel, it had been approximately 50 years since Jesus’ death and resurrection. The risen Jesus was expected to return, but it had been 50 years! Some were dying, others were frustrated, and still, others began to give up hope. So Luke takes it upon himself to call for continued vigilance and fidelity. "The heart that is merely waiting will find a thousand excuses, but the heart that is truly waiting will find a thousand ways."
All of this talk of the future was a strange concept for the participants of this interaction. The poor peasants were focused on today. “What will I eat today?” The religious and elite of the day were focused on the past. But here, Jesus calls them to look forward to the future and to prepare for what they do not understand. This is where we are so different from Jesus’ audience. Americans tend to be more focused on the future. So much so that they neglect today and the past. Jesus was (and is) calling for balance.
The gospel has two topics, possessions and expectations; and is a continuation from the teaching of last week’s gospel. Jesus tells us, 1st – Don't cling to earthly possessions. What we hold on to is a measure of what is important to us. Detachment from possessions provides a life of simplicity, and simplicity offers freedom.
The 2nd - Pay attention to where you are going. What is your hope? What are you looking for? We’re ready for action, but action towards what? Worldly success, fame, fortune? We should be prepared for the master's return. Nothing else matters. It is all a distraction from that purpose. Advent is our year-around season. We are always in the process of preparation.
After working on this commentary for a while, I decided to look at my own life. I have a magnet on my refrigerator, which holds a copy of our weekly schedule. The magnet says, “Jesus is coming, look busy.” I thought about it for a while. What is the most valuable thing to me? Time. If that is my treasure, then my heart must be there too, right?
At home, I usually look at my schedule for one week at a time. When I open Google Calendar, I have it set up only to show the current week. Well, in the middle of this commentary, I decided to look at the bigger picture. The past, the present, and the future. just in terms of the summer. The writing was so small (due to the number of entries) that I had to zoom in just to read it. This is my treasure, and I’m pretty busy. (At least, I’m making sure that I look busy.) “To whom much is given, much will be expected.” Are all of these events and appointments focused on the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ? I’d like to tell you yes, but that would be a lie.
Remember, life is a fatal disease for which there is no cure. My encounter with Jesus is coming, whether He makes the trip down here or I make the trip up there. Neither one of those dates are on my schedule, but they are inevitable. But after stopping to think about it, (which is the first step to fixing the problem) I can see some opportunities in my schedule. Jesus is not asking us to give up our daily tasks and obligations. He is calling us to refocus them towards Him. I am preparing every time I live the gospel, share with the poor, work for justice, and acknowledge my dependence on God. Can I do all of these things at the dentist’s office? Maybe! I just have first to recognize and seize the opportunity.
We cannot separate what we do from what we believe.
1. What are you afraid of? (i.e., creatures, death, flying, situations, war, unemployment, loss of a loved one, etc.)
2. What is at the basis of your fear? What effect does this have on your life? How do you deal with fear?
3. In Scripture, we read of a second kind of fear; a respectful “fear” (or reverence) of the Lord. If you have this "fear of the Lord," how does it affect your life? How does it affect your prayers?
4. Do you believe that God punishes people? Explain.