WelCom August 2022
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Luke 12:32-48
32 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘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 wherever your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
35 ‘Gird your loins [be prepared] 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, 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, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. 48 …When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.’
See that you are prepared
Jesus persuades His disciples neither be discouraged or afraid [Luke 12:32-48]. His advice to them was to sell their possessions and give to the poor.
I have recently been in Australia catching up with family relatives I had not seen for four years and celebrated my 88th birthday. Perhaps I am taking Jesus’ advice a little literally. My visit was tinged with some sadness with the news of the passing of two special people. One was a previous parish priest here in Stratford, Fr Kevin Neal.
Fr Kevin had the ability to see into the future. For example, he could see the time was coming when fewer priests would be around and begged those of us with the little ability we had, to practice giving homilies at daily Liturgies. These homilies have come to pass, and we are happy to carry these out. Several years ago, I attended St Patrick’s College in Silverstream for a short while. During my recent week in Australia, I also learned that my ‘table prefect’ from St Patrick’s College, Harry Lampen-Smith – a stalwart of the Diocese of Palmerston North – had also passed away.
I was only away in Australia six days but the events during that time have helped me to understand fully Jesus’ instruction: to be prepared. And as this Gospel reading tells us, having faith is a big part of that.
Today’s second reading from the Hebrews [Heb 11:1-2, 8-12] tells us only faith can guarantee us the blessings we hope for. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country without knowing where he was going, all because he trusted God’s promise that this was the inheritance for him and his descendants. By faith he arrived as a foreigner, in the Promised Land with Isaac and Jacob, who were joint heirs with him of the same promise. Because it was a new and strange country, each day would have required enormous faith. Little things would have been difficult. There were no embassies or hospitals that could come to the rescue if anything went wrong.
Hearing God’s call for our lives often comes amidst a cloud of uncertainty. None of us can tell the future and it is the future that brings great risk.
Hearing God’s call for our lives often comes amidst a cloud of uncertainty. None of us can tell the future and it is the future that brings great risk. Yet somehow, despite this uncertainty, we are supposed to figure out what God’s call is, and then obey it – utilising this thing called faith, which often also requires courage. This reading invites us to put our trust and faith in God, regardless. The background of the story demonstrates the difficulty of doing so. However, the degree of difficulty does not provide an excuse or a way out.
Instead, the Bible states that it is only our faith that guarantees us the blessings we hope for.
Tom Gibson is a retired dairy farmer and a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, Stratford, Taranaki.