Goods for what? “Deposit of faith” “…it seems to be more a “Deposit of Beliefs” says Donald Cozzens. “At the Vatican most people experience church as a museum. Faith as a “deposit” (favorite Canon Law language) as if it were something we visit in a bank vault once in a while, something all locked up never to be stirred, invested, put to work, reinvented or adapted to the language and culture of a new generation. Much preferable is the language of Saint John Henry Newman, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, of the “development of doctrine,” or we might say the evolution of doctrine. …But a doctrine is only a means and a doctrine is never to be frozen on ice or locked in a vault as if its value increases with age and pristineness.” says Matthew Fox in his recent book Letters to Pope Francis.
Pope Francis said to the bishops gathered in Brazil: “Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery. Not only does she herself remain outside the door of the mystery, but she proves incapable of approaching those who look to the Church for something which they themselves cannot provide, namely, God himself. At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible “to fish” for God in the deep waters of his Mystery. “
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.) Second they 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.” What have I been entrusted with?
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