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August 8, 2019

19th Sunday in OT (C)

Love waits, Love serves

Luke 12:32-48

This Sunday’s gospel draws some threads from last week’s in Jesus’ instructions to His disciples to divest themselves of money and material possessions and to give alms.  This alludes to all other kinds of earthly treasures in the heart that might impede progress in their relationship with the Father.

The gospel invites us to see the garment of discipleship in a new way: the marriage between the active and mystical contemplative life knit together seamlessly as one.  A mystic is one who has received God’s inpouring love, knows it and lives the contemplative life by supernatural grace. This is like the kingdom treasure the disciples have received: a new heart that prays for the enemy and loves the divine face in the stranger and disenfranchised, not just in a tribal, political, ethnic or religious grouping.

The disciples are afraid, but Jesus reassures them, “There is no need to be afraid… for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” Fear is optional. They are spiritually awake with new eyes to see, ears to hear, a new heart and mind. Scientists might call it evolution. The disciples are now participating in the new life with the Father and the Son and with all of creation.  They are “clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). Ordinary people have received God’s abundant grace to know, love and serve Him and to suffer well when necessary.

The themes of waiting, response, work and responsibility may be likened to the outer part of the seamless garment of discipleship: “Thy will be done”. It’s in the doing. The inner part is varying colours of the same one fabric.  It comprises the virtues, in one degree or another, of the nine fruits and the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It involves a true rending of the disciple’s heart. It’s in the being. This is the fabric of the purse that stores the treasure, makes the disciple spiritually awake and “dressed for action”.

They are required to have a prayerful, single-heartedness in motive and purpose.  Their symbolic lamps lit and fuelled by prayer and the inner light of the mind gifted from kingdom treasure.

Jesus puts a definitive value on the quality of waiting—with humility, trust, faithfulness and joyful anticipation. It is waiting out of love. The master demonstrates servant leadership by waiting on the servants he finds awake.  Love serves.

Waiting is not seen as a value or virtue in our time. It is often tinged with or burdened by impatience.  We pass time gazing deeply into devices that mostly house our own images and those that distort our minds and hearts. The number of likes on social media is now modern treasure. Few have time to prepare a meal and sit together at table, or even have family prayer time. Hospitality has lost its meaning. Quick solutions to problems are to be found in the empty promises of ‘other gods’: bucks, casinos and superstitious activity.

It is a personal choice to wear the seamless garment of discipleship.  The right disposition in waiting for the Master means we become the ‘little flock’.  Peter asks, “Lord, do you mean this parable for us or for everyone?”  Jesus is merciful, all-inclusive and hospitable. The invitation is for all peoples, everywhere and at all times. He mentions two qualities in answering Peter’s question: faithfulness and wisdom. The wise servant knows that it is through the strength of Christ he or she can do all things (Phil 4:13).

There are negative and positive consequences for each kind of servant. The faithful one is placed over everything the master owns. The one who becomes violent, disorderly and negligent is “cut off” and there are others. Introspection, acknowledgement of weaknesses, prayer and a desire for ongoing conversion are necessary.

In Matthew 7:14, Jesus warns: “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

‘A few’ are the ‘little flock’.

May the Master find us dressed, ready, spiritually awake and waiting.

The gospel reflections for August are by Jacqui-Theresa Leiba, a parishioner of St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown, Port of Spain. She is a wife, mother, author, teacher and a member of the group of Spiritual Directors at Emmaus Centre, Arima