SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION FROM VATICAN RADIO
(English version exclusive to this website)
Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini
AUGUST 7th 2022. NINETEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
GOSPEL: Luke 12:32-48
(Translation of a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio)
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Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel.
GOSPEL Luke 12:32-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
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.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
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.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
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.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”
Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
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?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
SUMMARY OF HOMILY
1. We are called to live by faith, waiting for the Lord, not takings matters into our own hands as if we were the masters of our destiny.
The first reading from the book of Wisdom speaks of the nocturnal liturgy marking the liberation from slavery of the Exodus. The second reading tells of the faith which is the guarantee of things hoped for, a faith like that of Abraham which entrusts itself to the providence of God. The Gospel asks us to have the same attitude of trustful waiting as that displayed by the people before the Exodus, to keep our eyes on the Lord, not living according to a horizontal dimension of life, but according to the manner in which the Lord nurtures us and saves us. The parable that Jesus tells emphasizes that the Lord erupts in our lives at the time that is right for him, not according to our schemes or designs.
2. All Christians are given certain goods that they must administer for the benefit of others. Each one of us is called to act with discernment and to nurture the lives of others.
Peter asks if the parable is for everyone or just for the disciples. Jesus replies with a distinction that is rare in the Gospels and very precious. He tells us that certain people are given responsibility for the flock and it is their duty to give the correct amount of food at the right time. We Christians are called to have the capacity to cultivate, nurture, increase life. The bad administrators, by contrast, do not believe in the eruption of the Lord into our existence. They behave as if they were masters, not servants, and make absolutes of themselves. This is an important key to understanding the parable. We are called to reason, not as someone who is the master of his existence, but as one who has received life as a grace and who must one day account for how he has used it.
3. When we behave as if we were the masters, great suffering results. Instead, we are asked to live as servants of the Lord, administering wisely the goods that he has given us.
The Gospel this Sunday confronts us with two different approaches: to act as wise administrators of the grace that God has given us, never forgetting that we are servants of the Lord; or, behaving as if we were the lord and masters of our existence, exploiting the things the Lord has given us for our own ends. It is not that we are to feel guilty for our abuse of what the Lord has given us. Rather, we are called to rejoice in the beauty that we have been given and to be collaborators with the Lord in his work. It all springs from the quality of our relationship with the Lord. When we appreciate his goodness and mercy, when we consider ourselves to be his children, we feel the desire to be faithful to our master and to nurture his life in others around us. However, if we believe that the Lord is distant, that his return is going to be delayed, then we soon begin to act as if everything revolved around us and we become tyrants, distracted by material things and living in a superficial way. Consider the suffering that resulted from the ideologies of the twentieth century, in which societies began to follow purely materialist conceptions of humanity. Think also of the way we have polluted and mistreated the creation of God. When we make the things of the earth our treasure, we minister creation very badly, leading to climate change and great human suffering. Instead, we are called to administer God’s gifts well by making ourselves accountable before the Lord. From him comes wisdom and the capacity to nurture, to do good and to lead others to good, according to the particular role that the Lord has given us.
The Gospel challenges us to be focussed on that which is to come
The first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks of the Exodus, an event that had been preannounced to the people of God so that they might have courage when the happenings began to unfold. The Gospel reading, too, speaks of the relationship between the present and the future. Jesus tells us that we can be serene and courageous in the face of our present problems because our Father in heaven has been pleased to grant us the Kingdom. This is the same sort of logic that we find in the Beatitudes – “Blessed are those who are afflicted now for they shall be consoled. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. The entire Gospel challenges us to be ready for that which is to come: to be ready for the master who will one day return; to be prepared for the prize that awaits in the future, the spouse who is expected to arrive, the reward that is due to us. The beginning of the passage tells us to sell our belongings and give alms, to make purses for ourselves that will not wear out. There are purses that grow old and those that do not; treasures that fade away and those that remain; possessions that criminals can take from us and those that cannot be stolen.
All my acts can only be understood in the light of their consequences
Every human act has a consequence; in fact an act can only be understood fully in the light of its consequences. How often we tend to be superficially caught up in the present moment and the immediate aspect of our behaviour! We need to be aware that every act leads somewhere. Every act I do is bound up with the reality of what God intends to do with me. If each and every act I do is not directed towards a definite end, then it is a stupid and blind act. Our existence is either a succession of disordered events or it is something that has sense and meaning. If I believe that the events in my life are the result of chance, then life becomes ugly and shallow. Our lives develop depth when they begin to be directed towards a goal, when we begin to expect liberation from God, when we begin to await something wonderful with expectation and hope. Pope Francis often exhorts us not to lose hope. If hope becomes obscured, if I lose sight of the goal of my existence, then everything becomes dry and tasteless. St Francis of Assisi said, “The good that awaits me is so great that every pain has become a delight”. We become cheerful in difficulty when we realize that those difficulties announce something wonderful to come. In the spiritual life, once of the fundamental things is to clarify my ultimate goals. Any act that takes me away from this ultimate goal is useless in itself. In fact it is dehumanising and takes the soul out of what I am doing.
Before doing anything, I should ask myself, “Does this act lead me towards paradise or towards the void?” If it does not lead towards paradise then it is something dehumanising
The Gospel exhorts us to be ready to depart, to be ready for the return of the master, to be attentive to the will of the master. All of this points to a mode of existence that is directed towards a wonderful goal. We are challenged to ask ourselves where we are going. If I continue behaving and living as I am now, where will I end up? What will be the outcome of my behaviour? Am I heading towards heaven or towards the void? Every act I commit is either leading me towards heaven or it is not. It is either directed towards paradise and greatness or it is not. Once there was a lot of emphasis in Christian preaching on death, judgement and salvation. These themes are less common nowadays because they are considered negative, but they are important and can be illuminated in fruitful ways. Everything I am doing must be seen in the light of the fact that the master will one day return and he will ask me what I have been doing, if I have been preparing for his coming. Have I been behaving as one who wishes to enter into his house? Or as someone who belongs outside? Did I act with eternity as my goal? Or with the void as my goal? In this season of summer we can often lose ourselves and follow after things that are empty and vain. But there is another way. If we have extra leisure time on our hands, we can use it to pull ourselves together and redirect our lives. Instead of going around blindly in circles, we can accept the challenge of this Sunday’s Gospel and fix our eyes firmly on our goal, leaving aside everything that is secondary.