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This week we begin by focussing on three short quotes – one from each of the readings – and ‘place’ these on a foundation from the Psalm.
This Sunday’s scriptures are:
WISDOM 18: 6 – 9
PSALM 33 (OR 32)
HEBREWS 11: 1 – 2. 8 – 19
LUKE 12: 32 – 48
In the Wisdom reading, towards the end, we read, “… the divine law that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers.”
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us “that from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants …”
Luke tells us that “every one to whom much is given, of him much will be required.”
Now, place these three quotations on the sure foundation of the Psalm’s closing stanza:
“Our soul is waiting for the Lord. He is our help and our shield. May your love be upon us, as we hope in you, Lord.”
These are difficult scripture extracts, and we need to dig a little deep to uncover a contemporary application. It may be useful if we bear two things in mind. First, remember that the Psalm’s waiting for the Lord must be seen against the Gospel’s picture of servants who get tired of waiting and take matters into their own hands. Secondly, Hebrews emphasises that even the Lord Jesus, even though seen by some as good as dead, managed to engender success through his many descendants. He himself, like us – his descendants – share(d) both blessings and dangers.
We must remember that we cannot enjoy blessings without dangers. This is, for the Christian, an occupational hazard
! However, WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN MUCH AND SO MUCH IS EXPECTED OF US. In this endeavour we must never forget that the Lord IS our help and shield! This is always true if we are prepared to WAIT ON HIM. This waiting is not only to be seen as exercising a real degree of patience but also as a waiting which implies faithful service (sometimes against many unfavourable odds).
Now let us spend time on our Gospel extract.
I suggest that our waiting is an opportunity to provide ourselves “with purses that do not grow old … treasure that does not fail.” The challenging question for us is this: are we really prepared to work for this purse and treasure? The servants in our Gospel reading became bored and disinterested. They did not discern or sense the master’s presence in the work given to them, the responsibility and trust he willingly gave them. Why, they asked themselves, should we worry – the master is not here!? They began the fatal process of adapting matters to their own profit and convenience, and forgot about the moth that destroyed.
We, too, can very easily be overtaken by the immediate opportunities for personal gain (not only material!?). Our self-importance begins to dominate, and we forget to “make ready or act according to his will.”
It is, therefore, interesting to hear the letter to the Hebrews proclaim that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Two important words must gain our attention – ASSURANCE and CONVICTI0N.
The Christian does not hope for an unknown
(hoping that the aches and pains of ageing will disappear is something entirely different from the hope of faith!). The hope of the true disciple is also the hope which finds its foundation in conviction. We talk about the three theological virtues of FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE. WHAT COMES FIRST? In the absence of faith there is no hope, and the challenge of love becomes a nightmare. Christian Hope (and Love) must always be linked to the REALITY OF FAITH.
The parable taught by the Lord in today’s Gospel extract is “for all.” It is for you and me! We have been given ‘charge’ of the Master’s kingdom here on earth. It is an awesome responsibility – one which should never be taken lightly or used for our own advantage. “Who then is the faithful and wise steward?” HERE I AM, LORD!