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August 12, 2019 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
Goods for what?
The Gospel for this Sunday is lengthy with many twists and turns. We cansummarize: In various ways the sayings elaborate the need for any who hear the word to take heed and to act on it. Vs. 35: “Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants …
The admonition to gird the loins is to be ready for action. It is also an expression for readiness for service. Even in this darkness time of the Church, the admonition is to bring light. We have been taught, above all, to be submissive, obedient and passive. Now we need a sharpening of our senses, watching intently for all the signs of divine presence and directives. We do this by vigilance in prayer and attentiveness to the hungers of our world. Some have been called to civil disobedience. Now all are called to Divine Obedience. Spend some time with this summary and vs 35. You may or may not wish to read the rest of this reflection.
Following the parable of the Rich Fool Jesus continues his teaching with three points that are related to this parable. First they must not be anxious over material security (12:22-31). In these verses we have Jesus’ statements that every hair on our head is counted and we need to consider the ravens and consider the lilies. (This section is not read in our Sunday cycle.) Secondthey must be generous in giving alms (12:32-34). Third, with regard to these matters they must be always ready for the coming of the Son of Man (12:35-40
The parable of the man hoarding his goods showed him to be a Fool because his life would be taken before he could enjoy his goods and his heirs would be left squabbling over what remained. Here Jesus encourages giving of alms and gives another reason for not hoarding earthly goods. These goods wear out and require vigilance against thieves and other destructive forces. When the heart is set on corruptible things, it is consumed with constant need to guard them, provide for their upkeep, storage and replacement, leaving no room for compassion and justice. Selling off belongings that hold a grip on the heart opens one to receive all from God as gift, a stance from which one may give just as freely.
Jesus’ words about being ready are stitched together by catchwords that revolve around watchfulness, preparedness and fidelity.
From sayings that censure vigilance over corruptible treasure that consumes the heart, the focus shifts to the need for vigilance for an absent master. While waiting for the return of the Master from the wedding, they are to be vigilant. The twist of the master waiting on the servants can only be understood in light of Jesus’ servant actions at the Last Supper. To other qualities which will produce blessedness, here Jesus adds vigilant preparedness.
The word “prepared” provides the link to the next saying. From watchful servants the metaphor now turns to watchful masters. As a householder would be especially prepared if he knew the time of the thief’s coming, so we must prepare for the coming of the Son of Man..
In the next saying, the emphasis shifts again to the steward put in charge of other servants in the absence of the master. Highlighted here is his role to overseer the feeding of the other servants. The manager who exercises this commission faithfully is pronounced blessed and given more responsibility. But the possibility of this steward abusing his commission is also spoken of. This man is to be “punished severely”, or literally will be “cut in two”. It is an ironically fit punishment for the double life the steward is leading.
The final sayings deal with unfaithful servants. And here we have the saying, that “to whom much is entrusted, much will be required.”