Meditation of the week

Devoted to the Kingdom

Luke 12,32-48.

Immediately after the parable of the man who hoarded his possessions and died without enjoying any of them (last Sunday), Jesus gives a famous teaching on trusting in divine providence. Since God provides so marvellously for the flowers of the field, surely, he will provide for all who trust in him. (12,22-32).

Today’s gospel opens with the advice to his disciples not to be afraid because the Father has given them the kingdom. They are to sell their possessions and give alms to the needy and thereby amass heavenly treasure, safe from thief or parasite. Their hearts are where their treasure is. If they are devoted to the kingdom then the things of the kingdom will be their priority.

Jesus then goes on to deal with readiness for the second coming of Christ. In their attitudes, values and relationships, they are to be dressed ready for the return of their master when he comes from the wedding feast. The time of his coming is unknown, but if he finds them ready when he comes, He will don an apron, sit them down and serve them a meal – a reward beyond belief. Uncertainty about the time of his arrival should keep them alert, ever ready for his coming.

Peter questions Jesus as to whether this teaching applies only to the disciples or to everyone. It seems to apply primarily to the twelve. Jesus answers that the faithful and wise stewards are those, who, put in charge of the master’s household to feed them at the proper time, are found doing that very thing when the master returns. The foolish servant, who, presuming on his master delay, takes advantage of it, by ill-treating the male and female staff and partying for all he’s worth, will get his comeuppance (exclusion from the kingdom), when the master arrives, when he least expects him.

Judgement of his servants will be in proportion to their knowledge of their master’s will and their responsibilities. From those who have been entrusted with greater responsibility more will be expected. From those most trusted by the master most will be expected.

“Do not be afraid.” Psychologists tell us that fear is one of the most pervasive of human emotions. The reason Jesus gives us for not being afraid is that it has pleased God our Father to give you the kingdom. This should motivate us to accept the invitation of the kingdom with gratitude and anticipation rather than fear.

To be foolish enough to reject or jeopardize the gift of the kingdom by one’s own selfishness or presumption would be disastrous. The kingdom deserves our best efforts. Fidelity and wisdom characterise the good steward whom the master places over his household to feed and care for them. “Lord give us the wisdom that sits by your throne.” Help us to be wise and faithful enough to do your will.

The image of Jesus putting on an apron and serving a meal, (12,37), reminiscent of the washing of the disciples feet at the last Supper (Jn 13,5), expresses the profound sense of service and joy which characterised first century Christian ministry.

Blessed John Henry Newman reminds us that God has created each one of us to do him some definite service which he has committed to nobody else. That is each one’s way of attaining the kingdom. How does that make you feel? What do you think is your special contribution to the promotion of God’s kingdom?

Fr Geoff O’Grady