Reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C.

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FIRST READING            Wisdom 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.

SECOND READING                  Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
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 – 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.

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.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. —  The Letter to the Hebrews gives us a good sense of the readings for this Sunday.  Faith is the dominant theme and believing in what we have not seen underlines our faith in the Lord.

The first reading is from the Book of Wisdom and gives us insights into how to believe:  God will save us and we must trust in God.  For many of us, it is a challenge to believe that God is always with us and that in whatever happens, He is present.  Yet our faith must bring us to that point over and over.  We cannot expect God to be a magician who makes everything wonderful.  That is not the promise of our God.  Our God promises to be with us and to help us in the struggle against our foe.  We will prevail, always, but only at the spiritual level.  If we keep our lives and lose our faith, we are lost.  If we lose our lives and keep our faith, we are blessed.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and gives us an account of the faith of Abraham, who we call “our father in faith.”  Abraham becomes a model for us to go on trusting.  Abraham trusted over and over and eventually all that the Lord promised to him was completed.  God invites each of us to follow Him in the foolishness of faith, believing that loving and servicing God and our neighbors will bring us true happiness and also salvation.  If we can be still in the presence of God and hear His voice and follow Him, we too will have happiness in this life and in the next.

The Gospel of Luke brings us back to the struggle to obey God.  Luke tells us “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  We can ask ourselves:  “where is my heart, what is my treasure.”  Answering that will give us immense knowledge about ourselves and we will also see the direction of our lives.

We can find ourselves like the servant who decides that God is not going to come any time soon and so begins to live a life not in accordance with the word of God.  Or we can be prudent servants who know that God can come at any moment and who then strive to be faithful.

The readings invite us to commit ourselves again to the Lord and to His word.  We may not be perfect yet, but we know the road and can keep walking, no matter how often we fail.  Just as our ancestors knew that God loved them, so we also know that God loves us.  Walking in faith, we allow this love to shape our lives.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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1 Response to Reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C.

  1. Robert John Bennett says:

    “We cannot expect God to be a magician who makes everything wonderful. That is not the promise of our God. Our God promises to be with us and to help us in the struggle against our foe.”

    I think those sentences express one of the great secrets of happiness.

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