23 October, 2013. Wednesday of the Twenty Ninth Week
Rom 5:12ff. Be obedient to God and you will come from death to life.
Lk 12:39ff. Be on guard. He will come when you least expect it.
First Reading: Romans 6:12-18
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What ten? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Gospel: Luke 12:39-48
“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you,he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one o whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
What are we enslaved to? Justice, that’s what!
From the point of view of Romans we are “men and women who have come back from the dead to life,” and the risen Christ dwells within us. Luke seems to say in the gospel that Jesus has gone on a long journey and has disappeared across the horizon. As we think on it, the divergence does not seem quite so severe as at first. We are advised to live daily, even moment by moment, as though the Son of Man were at the door, already knocking and ready to come in. Another key to the readings occurs in the word “servant” or “slave,” at least for Romans and Luke. Paul advises us to be “obedient slaves of justice.” Biblical “justice” goes even deeper than concern for the distribution of this world’s goods. It is rooted in God’s utter fidelity, being true to God’s own self and to his promises. To Moses on Mount Sinai Yahweh w as “a merciful and gracious God… rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34:6). Therefore, as ” slaves to justice,” we must live with an awareness of God’s marvellous plan of salvation.
Only as slaves of justice are we true to our inner self, to our authentic personality, to being in the image of God. The termw servant or slave recur repeatedly in the gospel. Jesus tells the parable of the unworthy steward who began to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and to get drunk. This steward is a slave himself, only of a higher position, but has forgotten most elementary norms of justice to others. The wise steward-slave was to be a just and faithful in his service.
The master comes unexpectedly, and in all sorts of ways Jesus is knocking at our door, literally everywhere. He is rising to new life in people and places where we would least expect it. Such is “God’s secret plan.” We, as chief stewards of the house, must not mistreat nor abuse anyone. We need to care tenderly for each person. We need to be very solicitous about the use of God’s good earth. Any moment, any time Jesus will come and knock.