19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“A God Who Is Faithful To His Promises.”
The Lord has assured us of his salvation and that his Word will be fulfilled.
The first reading shows the people of Israel looking back at their history and discovering how God has always been faithful. This fact gives them courage and hope for the future.
The second reading speaks of Abraham and Sarah, models of faith in God. They heeded the voice of God, and always responded readily; they believed in his plan of salvation even when all appearances suggested the exact opposite or by human reckoning seemed impossible. They were ever vigilant.
The Gospel invites us to be constantly vigilant, to be found always ready for the Lord who comes to bring liberation. He may come whenever we least expect him.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration, become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word, we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Wisdom is a unique part of the Old Testament in several ways. First of all, it was apparently written originally not in Hebrew, but in Greek. We don’t know anything about its author, except that he seems to be writing in Alexandria, Egypt. Wisdom is apparently the youngest book of the Old Testament, written less than a hundred years before the birth of Jesus. Finally, it appears no less than eight times in the Sunday Lectionary, more frequently than any other of the books of ‘wisdom literature’.
This passage begins with a reminder that ‘our fathers’ knew beforehand what was going to happen. This enabled them to have courage and to trust in the oaths they had been given by God. The ‘fathers’ mentioned here are probably the ancient patriarchs to whom God had promised liberation from Egypt when the need would arise. Hundreds of years before the ‘exodus’, God had made his plans known to the leaders of the people.
Having previously experienced this intervention of God, Israel, whenever in trouble, or when oppressed and exploited by foreign powers looked back and meditated on their past history to discover once again how God had always protected his people and freed them from all types of slavery. These reflections instilled courage in them and helped them to face the afflictions of the present and to hope for the future with renewed faith, trust and vigour.
Israel are a people who like to remember. They recall all the wonders and prodigies of the Exodus. We have an example of this in the reading of today: while the Egyptians, it says, were in darkness, the people of Israel were accompanied by a pillar of blazing fire; the Lord himself led them across unknown paths. God announced the coming of the ‘angel of death’, but the people had to be vigilant for his coming. They had to stand and eat their bread like people about to flee. They had to mark their houses with the ‘blood of the Covenant to signify their allegiance. The night that their ancestors had left Pharaoh’s land they were rescued while their enemies were routed and ruined. The rescue from Egypt defined the faith of the Israelites in every generation. This is the reason why they had decided to meet every year to celebrate during the night of the Passover these glorious events. When they reflect on what God had done for them, a song of praise, joy and thanks rises to their lips and once again their hearts are filled with the same hope and trust as in the hearts of the ‘fathers’.
Their story is our story. We stand awake and sober, aware that the angel of death has not ceased his rounds. We share our Eucharist on our feet, men and women on a journey that takes us into the world and beyond. We Christians have a similar event that we recall on every Sunday. We celebrate it and make it present because in that event God has manifested his whole love and fidelity. By giving us his Son he has shown us how great is his love for us. By raising him from the dead he has assured us also the history of each one of us, though marked by so many absurd and dramatic events, will have a glorious conclusion. The rescue from the abyss of darkness has defined the faith of Christians in every generation.
Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-20, 22.
The Psalm is a song of confidence in God, which celebrates his concern for his people over many generations. It probably originated late in Israel’s history. It portrays a God rich in merciful love that is the shield not just of Abraham, but of all who commit themselves to God.
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19.
The author of Hebrews also meditates on the history of Israel, but through Christian eyes. For him, the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs has become the faith of a Christian.
Abraham’s search for land foreshadowed the ‘pilgrim way’ of Christians who journey to their heavenly home as members of a “Pilgrim Church”. Abraham’s patient waiting was a symbol of the inability of the Christian to be at home in this world. The deliverance of Isaac from death (Gn. 22) was a figure of how the God who brings the dead to life raised Jesus from death.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that trusting in God and not money and material possessions is asked of all his followers, his ‘little flock’. This poor little group of Jesus’ disciples finally became the community of believers, called the Christian Church. Why are they compared to a little flock? The people who left everything to actually follow Jesus were few and were neither rich nor powerful.
The invitation of Jesus to the group is to act contrary to the natural tendency of looking for security and self-sufficiency through the acquisition of many things. They have been given the Kingdom by the Father because of their openness to God and to this ‘new life’ he offers in Jesus. Because of this free gift, they are invited to sell their possessions, to help the poor, and to become dependent on God. When God becomes the ‘real treasure’ in life and the heart has been won over to him, a new type of relationship is born and starts to grow and bear fruit.
There is a real danger to the Church and its leaders in every age to want to become a ‘big and powerful flock’, to have political influence and secure financial resources. Whenever in history the Christian Church relied on governments, politicians, kings and commercial interests, it became weak and lifeless and lost true direction. However there is a need in the ‘little flock’ for different people to be put in charge of different duties, not as masters but as stewards. Stewards render their service to the community under the orders of someone else. They have no reason to show-off or boast, or worst to dominate and exploit their fellow servants because they are answerable to the true ‘Master’ of the community, Jesus Christ.
In the family of God, the Church, all leaders, from bishops to the small Christian community leaders, must see themselves as stewards and servants of the community. The ‘little flock’, the community of Jesus’ followers, is invited to be ready for the ‘Master’, Jesus, who will come at a moment they do not expect.
His coming is compared to a ‘thief’ breaking into a house to steal things. The attack of a ‘thief’ usually upsets the lives and the plans of the people living in that house. Similarly, Jesus upsets the lives and plans of those he has called to follow him. The ‘thief’ does not announce the day or the hour he will come. In order to be prepared, those in the house have to be ready at all times and not take any chances; Jesus tells us to be vigilant.
The way of being ready is expressed in various images: to be fully dressed and ready for action; to keep the torch alight all the time; to be wide-awake and ready to respond. Like a watchman or soldier on night duty, the Christian must always be spiritually prepared for the coming of the ‘Master’.
As we move on into the early part of the new millennium we can expect many self-styled and false prophets to announce the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. At the end of our lives, we will render an account to God. Jesus urges us to be ready for that day, which may come when we least expect it. We don’t have to know the day or the hour, for we as Christians put our total trust in the teachings of Jesus.
We just keep trying, here and now, to do the good and avoid the bad, and the rest will take care of itself. It would be nice if we could leave this life knowing that our work is completed being at peace with ourselves, at peace with our neighbour and at peace with God.
Being a good steward of the ‘Master’s household’ is only required of those who are actually handed the keys. We received the ‘keys’ at our baptism. We are being personally addressed by this story as the steward who is entrusted with much. We can never say that we did not know what was expected of us. The light of our lives should be burning night and day, illuminating the ‘way’ for others. In a world where most things pass away, love for God and for one another is our treasure. Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be”.
God is faithful to his promises. When God invites us to take up the challenge, we must not hesitate to accept. God’s reign has begun and he invites us into the future!
A Christian who know the Scriptures will not be uncomfortable knowing that Jesus’ coming will be completely unexpected like a ‘thief in the night’ What matters is to be ready for God today and every day with the treasure of love in our hearts.
The Saving Message For Us In Today’s Gospel.
What does 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 unusual comparisons and often quite unexpected lessons for the 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? And how about the person who possessed great wealth, but woke up one day to discover that the thief has carried it all off? What does this say to us about the Kingdom of Heaven?
The treasure God offers is of far greater value than any earthly treasure and is more secure! But it is possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God. What is this treasure? The Lord offers us a relationship with Him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. The image Jesus uses here is a ‘great wedding feast’ in which the master honours his guests by seating them in the place of honour and personally waiting on them himself.
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 an 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 not matter how tough and difficult it may get. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one than He expects of us. Fortunately God gives us the grace and strength to be faithful. He also rewards faithfulness.
Why is fidelity or faithfulness so difficult today? Modern society extols freedom and being politically correct over fidelity and does not want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future. It is also inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of one’s all important own interests. We desperately need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the next generation as well. Faithfulness demands consistency, a determination to stay on course and hard work.
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 for us is while the Master is away we can put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today! Are we faithful to God and ready to give Him an account of our Stewardship?
Will we be invited to the ‘great wedding feast’?
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’.
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Whenever in trouble Israel looked back and meditated on past history to discover once again how God had always protected his people. Israel’s God is our God, the first person of the ‘Blessed Trinity’. In the New Covenant, He is no longer present among us in a ‘pillar of blazing fire’; He is present in our hearts. To true believers, this fact gives courage and hope for the future.
Mon. … The rescue from Egypt defined the faith of the Israelites in every generation. This is the reason why they meet every year at the Feast of the Passover to celebrate this glorious event. Their story is our story also. We Christians have a similar event that we recall every Sunday. We celebrate it as the ‘New Covenant’ and make it present because in the sacrifice of his Son as the ‘sacrificial lamb’ God has manifested his whole love and fidelity for his people. By raising his Son from the dead he has assured that we too will have a glorious conclusion, if we so choose.
Tues. … We Christians have our food for our own ‘exodus’ from the slavery of this world. We share at each Mass our “Eucharist’ on our feet which strengthens us on our journey into the world and beyond, to the ‘promised land’ taking with us this precious treasure of God’s gift of love for all humankind making us one with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and each other.
Wed. … In the second reading Paul tells us that only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for. We must become like Abraham who had strong faith in God to enable him to believe in what he could not see, to build up a vision of what the future will be like. Abraham acted on that vision of faith and was rewarded with a son. Abraham’s faith and trust in God enabled him to see these things not as part of his experience now, but ‘in the far distance’.
Thurs. … The invitation of Jesus to his disciples to sell their possessions and give alms is so that they may help the poor and become dependent on God. The lesson for us here is that when God becomes our ‘real treasure’ in life and heart, a new type of Christian relationship is born. A relationship based on love, trust and faith.
Frid. … We all have been called to be ‘good stewards’ of the ‘Masters Household’ by our baptism. Our Lord’s coming will be at a time we do not expect. We do not know the day or the hour. We must be awake and vigilant.
Sat. … Abraham’s real treasure was his faith in God, and his heart was in the same place as his treasure. Abraham risked everything, but his risk was funded from his treasure – his faith in God. Jesus risked everything, but his risk was funded from his treasure – his great love of the Father. Jesus says that ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’. But the question we all need to answer is: What is our real treasure? Is our treasure rich enough to fund the risks the Gospel asks us to take?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, when we fall into doubt and difficulties with our faith, may we be like the people of Israel and reflect back on Your Scriptures to once again discover how You always kept Your ‘Covenant Promises’ for our deliverance. Help us strive to develop our faith like Abraham’s so we too may see our treasure as the Kingdom of God. May we persevere, as ‘good stewards’ by being awake and vigilant and by our lives be a shining example for others who are lost, to follow in the ‘Way’.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.