Thứ Bảy, 10 tháng 8, 2013

AUGUST 11, 2013 : NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME year C

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Lectionary: 117

Reading 1WIS 18:6-9
The night of the passover was known beforehand to our fathers,
that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith,
they might have courage.
Your people awaited the salvation of the just
and the destruction of their foes.
For when you punished our adversaries,
in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.
For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice
and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.
Responsorial PsalmPS 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
R. (12b) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. 
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. 
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. 
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
—and Sarah herself was sterile—
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son,
of whom it was said,
“Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
—and Sarah herself was sterile—
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.
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.”

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 the servants 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.”


Scripture Study
August 11, 2013 Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday the readings invite us to consider the true meaning of faith and its role in guiding our lives. If we are to be truly people of faith then we should be able to see some similarity between ourselves and the great heroes of faith that the second reading describes. In the Gospel reading Jesus warns us that those in leadership positions must always be on guard to avoid falling into the trap of the rich fool in last week's reading. When gifts are given we must use them with responsibility. This applies to all of us because all of us are intended to be leading someone closer to God. In a larger sense, where is my treasure? How is this reflected in my day to day living? How differently would I live today if I new that the Lord were returning tomorrow?

First Reading: Wisdom 18:6-9


6 That night was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. 7 Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. 8 For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. 9 For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution, That your holy ones should share alike the same good things and dangers, having previously sung the praises of the fathers.

NOTES on First Reading:

*18:6-9 This reading is taken from a long section in Wisdom that contrasts God's care for Israel with His punishment of Israel's enemies. These four verses come from the fifth and final example which is the case of the tenth plaque in Exodus where the first-born of the Egyptians were killed but the Israelites were spared after having celebrated the Passover Seder (Exodus 11:1-12:30).

* 18:6 Fathers probably means the Israelites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 11:4-7) or the patriarchs (Gen 15:13-14; 46:3-4; etc.) to whom God swore that He would deliver their descendants.

* 18:8 Chosen from all the people of the earth.

* 18:9 Sacrifice probably refers to the Passover which created a religious unity. Institution may refer to the law commanding the Passover or to the action of the next line. For the phrase, "Praises of the fathers," see Sirach 44-50 and Wisdom 10. There is also a tie in to Hebrews 11. Here the writer seems to picture the Israelites singing the "praises of the fathers" like later Israel would sing the Hallel ( Ps 113-118) at the Passover.

Second Reading: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19

1 Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. 2 Because of it the ancients were well attested.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. 9 By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. 11 By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age--and Sarah herself was sterile--for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. 12 So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

13 All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 14 for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, 18 of whom it was said, "Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name." 19 He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

NOTES on Second Reading:

Drawing upon the people and events of the Old Testament, Chapter 11 paints an inspiring portrait of religious faith that is firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront it. This chapter expands the theme announced in Hebrews 6:12, to which the author now returns (Hebrews 10:39). The reading includes only portions of the letter dealing with Abraham. Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass (Hebrews 11:1).

* 11:1 The author is not attempting a precise definition of faith and it should not be taken as such. There is dispute about the meaning of the Greek words hypostasis and elenchos, here translated realization and evidence, respectively. Hypostasis usually means "substance," "being" (as translated in Hebrews 1:3), or "reality" (as translated in Hebrews 3:14); here it connotes something more subjective, and so realization has been chosen rather than "assurance" (RSV). Elenchos, usually "proof," is used here in an objective sense and so translated evidence rather than the transferred sense of "(inner) conviction" (RSV). Others have suggested that the disputed words should be translated as "reality" and objective "demonstration." Using this scheme faith is here said to be "the reality" of the goods hoped for, the "proof" of things one cannot see.

* 11:19 Isaac's deliverance from death was seen later by early Christians as a symbol of Jesus' resurrection.

Gospel Reading: Luke 12:32-48

32 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 where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

35 "Gird your loins 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, he will put him in charge of all his property. 45 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, 46 then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48 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."

NOTES on Gospel:

* 12:32 Jesus promises His small and perhaps somewhat discouraged (at time of the writing of Luke's Gospel) group of followers that they have the Kingdom.

* 12:33-34 After having warned his readers against anxiety over material possessions (12:22-32), Luke now returns to the theme of sharing one's goods through alms-giving which he introduced in verse 21.

* 12:35-48 These verses present "servant" parables with an ecclesiological twist by Luke. His point is that community officials must be faithful and not create internal problems for the Church. The Greek word used in verses 37,43,45,46, and 47 for servant, "doulos" means one who gives service to the Christian community (see Rom 1:1; Cor 7:22; Gal 1:10; Acts 4:29; 16:17. The word, oikonomos, "steward," occurs in the Gospels only in Luke (12:42; see 16:1,3,8) and means one who gives service to the Christian community (1Cor 4:1-2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10).

* 12:37 The reversal is important and underscores the generosity of God and our dependence upon it. The servant who is faithful while waiting the return of the Master will share in the eschatological banquet. Contrast this verse with 17:7-10 where the point is the responsibility of the servant. Luke also presents Jesus as servant in 22:24-27 and as suffering servant in 23:6-25.

* 12:41 Peter is the spokesman for Church officials.

* 12:42 There is more than just food involved here. It may refer to communal meals and perhaps to the Eucharist.

* 12:45 Here Luke portrays the church official with some of the characteristics of the rich fool of verse 19.

* 12:47-49 Luke presents the stark punishments of unfaithful and negligent Church leaders.



Meditation:  "Blessed are they who open at once"
What does a treasure, a thief, a wedding feast, and a homecoming have in common? Jesus loved to tell stories (in the form of parables) using common everyday images to draw some rather unusual comparisons and often quite unexpected lessons for his audience. There is an element of surprise in the story of the master returning home unexpectedly after the marriage feast. Will he catch his servant sleeping rather than keeping watchful guard over his master's estate? And how about the person who possessed great wealth, but woke up one day to discover that a thief had carried it all off. What does this say to us about the kingdom of heaven? The treasure God offers is of far greater value that any earthly treasure! But it's possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God. In this parable what does the treasure of the kingdom refer to? It certainly refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects. But in a special way, the Lord himself is the treasure we seek. If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty (Job 22:22-23). The Lord offers us a relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. If we make the Lord our treasure, he, in turn, will make us his honored friends at his banquet table in heaven!
This parable also contains a lesson in faithfulness and a warning against sloth. Why is faithfulness so important to God?  For one, it's the foundation for any lasting and meaningful relationship. Faithfulness or fidelity allows us to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment. The Lord is committed to us in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity. That is what covenant means – keeping one's word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to be faithful.  He also rewards faithfulness. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today. How can we grow in faithfulness? God's grace shows us the way. When we are faithful in the little tasks and promises we make, we learn to be faithful in the bigger and more important responsibilities and tasks entrusted to us.Are you ready to give God an account of your stewardship?
Why is fidelity or faithfulness so difficult today? Modern society extols freedom over fidelity and doesn't want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future.  It's also inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of one's own interests. We badly need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the next generation as well. If we want to pass on the faith then we need to first be faithful models for our youth.
"Lord, you are faithful even when I fail. Help me to remain faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties. Make me diligent in the exercise of my responsibilities and wise and prudent in the use of my gifts, time and resources."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/


Prepare for the Unexpected Hour
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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, he will put him 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 him 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."
Introductory Prayer: Father, I believe in you with all my heart. I trust in your infinite goodness and mercy. Thank you for so patiently guiding me along the pathway to everlasting life. I love you and offer all that I have and all that I do to you, for your glory and the salvation of souls.
Petition: Lord Jesus, keep me vigilant and committed in doing your most holy will.
1. Occupations and Preoccupations: We are often so preoccupied and anxious about the things of this world that we forget about pursuing the treasure of the next, “an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” In working so hard, we fall into another trap of pursuing every little entertainment and escapism to compensate such dedication. All the while, we easily forget about our real purpose and the real relationship we ought to be fostering each day with God our Father who loves us and “is pleased to give you the kingdom.” What are the best excuses I use that prevent me from having a deeper committed relationship with God? Do I give as much dedication, money and time to loving God and serving my neighbor as I do to pursuing entertainments?
2. Pleased to Give You the Kingdom: Am I convinced God is truly “pleased to give you the kingdom,” that he loves me and is interested in me? Why don’t I always want what God wants for me? What things and activities in my life are emptying me and distracting me from developing a better relationship with Christ? In order to maintain a healthy spiritual life, we must often reassess our attitudes and change our priorities so as to safeguard our hearts from being swindled and robbed of our true treasure, which is God. Do my priorities and decisions reflect to those around me that Christ is the true love of my heart, my true treasure?
3. The Devil’s Strategy Revealed: Once upon a time, Satan called an end-of-the-fiscal-year meeting to go over the year’s results. He was not pleased, and he demanded to know what new strategies he could employ to guarantee success in moving men’s hearts away from their Creator. Sending men distractions in prayer and contemplation came just ahead of tempting men to greed and lust. Infiltrating and corrupting the music industry increased the numbers. Developing the multibillion-dollar pornography industry brought in great results. Yet, Satan was still not satisfied. Then one suggestion was brought to his attention: “We must convince the men of earth that they have a lot of time!” We all tend to think we will continue in this earthly life for many years to come. This may not be the case, for we know not the day or the hour. We must awake from our slumber, for “blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, strengthen me in times of temptation and distraction, so I may never sell my inheritance for a bowl of lentils (see Genesis 25:34). Help me, Lord, to rededicate my life to you in a more committed way that builds your kingdom in me and in those around me.
Resolution: I will do a good examination of conscience to see what more I can do to keep Christ and his interests at the top of my priorities and in the allocation of my time.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11
NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

LUKE 12:32-48

(Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19)
KEY VERSE: "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival" (v 37). 
READING: The early Church expected the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In speaking of his second coming, Jesus described himself as a master returning from a wedding and expected to find his servants vigilant on his arrival. Likewise, his disciples should never leave a task undone that ought to be finished before his return. Jesus made the unlikely comparison of himself to a thief in the night(1Thes 5:2). He pointed to the uncertain hour of his return telling his disciples to be prepared whenever he might come. The faithful servant who watched over the household (the Church) would be rewarded when the master returned. Unfaithful servants would be punished for their shameful behavior. Jesus warned these future leaders of the Church that they would be held more accountable than those who acted out of ignorance. If Jesus' followers are faithful servants who watch over the household of God, the Church here on earth, they will be rewarded for their fidelity .
REFLECTING: Am I a good steward of the treasure and talents the Lord has given me?
PRAYING: Lord Jesus, help me to be a faithful and trustworthy servant of you and your people.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own
‘Give yourself treasure that will not fail you.’
Lord, we desire security. We try to find ways of making ourselves impregnable so that we won’t be devastated when the worst happens. But our Father is inviting us to make ourselves vulnerable by ‘selling all our possessions’ - by letting go the security we cling to, whatever it is. This is the way of faith.

Jesus, it is hard to take this sort of risk. It is hard to be completely dependent on you. It is especially hard when your kingdom and its realisation seem so far away. ‘Jesus, where are you?’ ‘Look in your heart’, you reply. ‘If you continue to take the steps in faith I have been asking of you, you will see that you are not alone. You are companioned by the Holy Spirit who draws you into God and his kingdom now.’


August 11
St. Clare
(1194-1253)

One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi (October 4) pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.
The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, she was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.
At 18, she escaped one night from her father’s home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant.
End of movie material. Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares). Francis obliged her under obedience at age 21 to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death.
The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence. (Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: “Our bodies are not made of brass.”) The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade her to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”
Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of her life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick, waited on table, washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals and bishops often came to consult her—she never left the walls of San Damiano.
Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. She was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.
A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled.


Stories:


: On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself: “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.”

Comment:

The 41 years of Clare’s religious life are poor movie material, but they are a scenario of sanctity: an indomitable resolve to lead the simple, literal gospel life as Francis taught her; courageous resistance to the ever-present pressure to dilute the ideal; a passion for poverty and humility; an ardent life of prayer; and a generous concern for her sisters.
Patron Saint of:

Eye disorders
Television

LECTIO: 19TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)
Lectio: 
 Sunday, August 11, 2013  
The teaching of Jesus concerning vigilance
Luke 12:32-48


Opening prayer
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
You who have already come to make us faithful,
come now to make us blessed.
You who have come so that, with your help,
we may glory in the hope of sharing
in the glory of the children of God,
come again that we may also glory in its possession.
It is you who confirm, consolidate,
perfect and bring to fulfilment.
The Father created us, the Son redeemed us:
fulfil then that which is yours.
Introduce us to the whole truth,
to the enjoyment of the highest Good,
to the vision of the Father, the abundance of all delights,
the joy of joys. Amen
(Gualtiero di S. Vittore)

1. Lectio
a) A key to the reading:

We have here a double context: the formation of the disciples during Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem (9:51-19,28) and the reaction of the converted pagans in the communities of Luke after their initial enthusiasm and the prolonged coming of the Lord. The disciples are scared (9:45) at the new idea of the mission of Jesus who has to suffer (9:22.43-44), and in them continues to dominate the more comforting idea of a glorious Messiah. Similarly, in the new Christian communities (in the 80’s), there begins to grow a revival of the pagan spirit. Better wait before converting definitely and deeply, put off this change of life and way of thinking. Jesus assures his disciples with three parables and makes them reflect on the meaning of meeting with God, on the meaning of vigilance and of the responsibility of each one in the present situation.
b) A suggested division of the text:

12:32-35 introduction
12:36-38 the parable of the master who returns from his wedding
12:39 the parable of the thief who forces his way
12:40-41 the disciples implicated
12:42-46 the parable of the steward
12:47-48 conclusion
c) The text:

32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
35 "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have been awake and would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." 41 Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

2. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
a) A few questions:

- What did I feel when I read the text? Fear, trust, surprise, joy, hope, confusion. . .?
- How far does Christian life mean joy to me and how far is it a burden? How far is it a matter of duty and how far of love?
- What do I feel when I think of a sudden death for me?
- How far is communion with God still an expectation for me and how far something that I already possess?
- How does the pagan thinking of “carpe diem”, contrary to Gospel values, manifest itself today?
- In my life, what does it mean to be vigilant, faithful, working for the Kingdom and prepared?
b) A commentary:

This is a catechesis on the return of the Lord.
12:32 There is no reason for fear.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you his kingdom. When the disciples are facing fear, Jesus consoles them with the metaphor of the flock (Jn 10; 21:15-17) and the good shepherd. One must fear false prophets (Mt 7:15). The Father’s will is that not one be lost (Mt 18:12-16), He will give us everything (Rom 8:28-32). A place has been prepared for us from the beginning of time (Mt 25:34), we are heirs with the Son (1Pt 1:3-5).

12:33-34 Today we welcome the richness of possessing God, the only good. God alone suffices!
Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Jesus had said that we must not store up treasures (Mt 6:20-21). The Christian community had understood the meaning of freedom from attachment to goods and the sharing of them (Acts 4:34) because time was short (1Cor 7:29-31). The new life in Christ becomes the criterion for ownership of any possession.
12:35 A daily commitment.
Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning;
Because it has pleased the Father to give us the kingdom, we must be ready to take possession of it, after we have left behind every hindrance. The Jews girded their long robes at the waist so as to be able to work better. Elijah girds himself in order to run (1Kings 18:46). The attitude that Jesus recommends to those who are expecting his coming is that of getting down to work and not to give in to mediocrity (1Ts 5:6-8; 1Pt 5:8; 1:13). Vigilance is fundamental for the Christian. The Christian’s way of life is more than just an attitude for he/she has now put on Christ and is dedicated to his Kingdom.
12:37-38 Meeting God will be wonderful.
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
The action of the master who serves his servants is quite surprising! This was what Jesus did when he washed the feet of his disciples (Jn 13:4-5). The division of the night into parts (Mk 13:35) according to Roman custom, makes it more difficult for those watching. For those who are creatively faithful to the Lord, the future is guaranteed.
12:39 Let us not waste time (and money!) in trying to look into the future.
But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have been awake and would not have left his house to be broken into.
One argument in favour of vigilance is that we do not know when the Lord will come (Mt. 24:42-51). Both the day of the final judgement and of our individual death are unknown. His coming cannot be foreseen (Ap 3:3). This made a great impression on the disciples (1Ts 2:1-2; 2Pt 3:10).
12:40-41 Love not formal membership must be our strength.
You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour. Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?”
Peter, his old self, still thinks of getting some privileges because he had left everything behind to follow Jesus (Mt 19:27). Jesus helps Peter grow in conscience by answering indirectly through the parable of the good steward.
Conversion is a life-long process, also for those who feel close to the Lord.
12:42-44 Combining vigilance and faithful service to the task entrusted to us.
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
Luke uses “steward” rather than “servant” (Mt 24:45) almost suggesting the question made by Peter. Those responsible, particularly, have to be faithful in their service.
12:45-46 Not putting off our conversion to an indefinite tomorrow.
But if that servant says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming,” and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him with the unfaithful.
There are those who welcomed enthusiastically the Gospel message, but now, faced with present difficulties and consequent commitments, begin to take up once more their old habits: violence, intemperance, not following instincts. All values that are contrary to the Gospel.
12:47 Giving according to the measure that we have received.
That servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating.
The Lord will reward each one according to his/her deeds (Mt 16:27) and according to the grace received (Rom 11:11-24). Jews, pagans, converted persons or those faithful to their religion will be judged according to their right conscience.
12:48 For great will be the eternal communion with God.
Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
St. John of the Cross says that at the end of life we will be judged on love. See also Mt 25:15-16.

3. Psalm 33, 1-5; 13-15; 18-22
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Praise the Lord with the lyre,
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song,
play skilfully on the strings,
with loud shouts.
For the word of the Lord is upright;
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

The Lord looks down from heaven,
he sees all the sons of men;
from where he sits enthroned
he looks forth on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death,
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Yea, our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let thy steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in thee.

4. Closing prayer
Father, may the same faith burn in our hearts as that flame that urged Abraham to live on earth as a pilgrim. May our light never dim, so that, vigilant in expectation of your hour, we may be ushered by you into our eternal homeland (Collect 19th Sunday C).