Sunday 11 August 2019: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 18:6-9. Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19. Luke 12:32-48

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom”. He then goes on to speak about being ready for ‘when the Master comes’. Peter asked him if this parable was for him or for everyone. We today can ask the same: is Jesus speaking to us? And of course, we believe that yes, his words are meant for us today just as they were meant for the disciples over two thousand years ago. In today’s world, in our own lives, what does it mean to be a person of faith, a person of courage, a person who is ‘not afraid’, a person who is ready to meet God at every moment in life, a person who has been given God’s Kingdom?

The first reading today speaks of the Israelites who put their trust in God and with courage began their journey into the unknown. Their faith gave them courage and they trusted that whatever lay ahead would be in God’s hands. The second reading also tells the story of Abraham and Sarah who set out to an unknown land, in faith, not knowing where they were going but trusting only in God, ready to listen to God and obey God even when it seemed irrational to do so. Theirs was a journey of faith and throughout this journey they were aware of God’s presence calling them and guiding them.

Faith is a gift, trusting in God who we cannot see but know without any doubt exists if for no other reason than that we feel the power of life and love within us, urging us on, giving us strength. Faith is not a static system of doctrines or beliefs. Faith is something that is lived throughout the journey of life by each one of us. Faith is recognising God’s presence in every moment and circumstance of life, even in those which seem difficult; faith is seeing God in every person that we meet, and, following the example given us by Jesus himself, doing what we can to make this world a place where God’s Kingdom of peace and justice and right relations is made real for those around us.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, and therefore also tells each one of us, to be vigilant, to be watchful, to be attentive, to all that is going on within us and around us. In today’s busy world where most of us live in the fast lane, we hear a lot about the need for Mindfulness. This can be another word for what Jesus is calling us to: to slow down, be aware, listen, discern, see God in all things and all people, and thus be more able to respond to our own needs and the needs of others in a loving, caring, responsible, just way.

As well as being vigilant, Jesus also asks us to be always ‘dressed for action’. In the parable, he speaks of a Master who has gone away and left an administrator in charge of his house. In the first scene, the administrator faithfully does his duty and receives his reward. In the second scene, the administrator abuses his authority and strikes the servants, and for this, upon the unexpected return of the Master, he will be punished. This kind of scene well describes much of what we see in our world: governments and others in authority, including even in the Church, who through the corrupt and irresponsible abuse of their position cause violence, injustice, poverty and suffering. God has placed each one of us in care of God’s household, God’s creation. Today we are each invited to ask ourselves how answerable we might be in the administration of that which has been entrusted to our care.

We know a person of faith through their life of good works. Among other things, Jesus says today, “Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This is an invitation to not place our confidence or trust in material things but to use whatever God has given us responsibly and for the good of others, trusting only in God from whom we have come and to whom we will return. Pope Francis tells us that almsgiving is not just about giving money but is a gesture of love and mercy, about truly being attentive to the person asking for help, being able to look the person in the eye, stop to talk, understand what they really need, and giving freely, without grudging or expecting reward. Hence, to be vigilant, to recognise God who comes into our lives at all times, to be dressed for action and ready to serve, these all are marks of a person of faith.

May the Lord give us the grace to live our lives as a journey of faith, to be mindful and attentive always, to see God in every person we meet and in every circumstance of life, even those which seem difficult, and to be ready to respond with faith, with love and with service.

Sr Kathleen McGarvey OLA
Published in The Furrow
July/August 2019, page 429