Homily for 7 August 2022 by Fr. Gerard Jonas
Sunday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time
Dynamics of Discipleship
Wis 18:6-9; Ps 33; Heb1:1-2,8-19; Lk12,32-48
Our Gospel for today shows some dynamics of discipleship: wise investment, vigilance, and diligence. The Lord preludes all this with an exhortation to not be afraid and the assurance of God’s goodness to offer all this to happen.
Jesus tells his disciples that the Father gladly offers the Kingdom and to lay claim on it is to “invest” in it. Here, the Lord invites to an attitude or disposition of dispossession, that is, putting what one has put up at the service of others. It is trading earthly goods with the eternal. For He who has given us life here on earth, also gladly offers us life in the eternal kingdom.
Then the Lord sums up saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Take note of how Jesus did not say that we should put our treasures where our own hearts lead us to. Rather He flips that around and says that when we put our treasures, our earthly possessions- what we value- into Kingdom investments, our hearts will follow and go there too. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of the heart.
In the call to discipleship, there also happens a shift from being the server to the guest, from worker to patron, so to say.
Discipleship is first defined as slavery to the Master. Then the Master’s actions transform his slaves into his guests. There is self-denial that requires that we see ourselves as the lowest of the low, then wait expectantly for the Lord. In turn, we are blessed. We are transformed into his guests and friends.
Discipleship is more about being than about doing. The slaves have only to vigilantly wait, then their Master comes to serve them. Before we get too busy for Jesus, we need to understand that Jesus first wants to bless us.
Discipleship is a blessing. It is to have only one real choice – to be someone totally for Christ with no agenda but his. If we would leave everything behind and wait for him to knock, and open the door when he comes, if we would just be alert and wait for him, we would be blessed. Then our lives would be transformed.
Jesus ends his teaching with yet another parable about a master and his servants. The Lord speaks of an expectation on a servant beyond alertness and vigilance. A responsible servant is called to be diligent in his household tasks particularly towards his fellow servants, despite or most especially, in the absence of his master. Vigilance coupled with diligence speaks of how one is carefully watchful and also of one’s conscientiousness in one’s duties. The choice one deliberately makes has consequences. Faithful diligence is rewarded and irresponsible negligence is reprimanded.
During the open-air Mass at St. Peter’s Square in October 1998, John Paul II asked himself, “Have you been a diligent and vigilant master of the Church? Have you tried to satisfy the expectations of the faithful of the Church and also the hunger for truth that we feel in the world outside the Church?” On the last day of a week-long celebration marking his 20 years of the papacy, Pope John Paul II wondered aloud whether he had done a good job.
How are we to live out the Lord’s call to vigilance and diligence from day to day? We are certainly not called to serve only those around us but more so that which is within us. The Lord tells about the household servants. We may also refer this to our own numerous personal faculties. The challenge is to also put to task all these faculties to be at the service of the Good News, our thoughts and sentiments, so too, our words and actions. Are we fully integrated as a person totally for God?
St Augustine says that an act of choice is not just a matter of knowing what to choose but that it also involves loving and feeling. It is in this capacity for the unity of knowledge and feeling in a single act that one needs and experiences the grace of Divine inspiration.
St. Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrews, tells of how Abraham always made only one choice, which is to follow God. It made him seek a new life away from his homeland and from what he thought it meant to be the father of a multitude when he only had Isaac.
Let us pray that like St Pope John Paul II we may also receive the grace of vigilance and diligence in whatever we do or who we are – for our own families and communities; and that like Abraham, we may take diligence in discerning with our mind and heart, and in integrally living out our personal call to follow and be with God.
And as Fr Joe reminds in his Chapter Talk last night, “What is God calling us to embrace or to become? … God wills that for us…”
For us, in this monastic journey it is our monastic life, but for us all – it is simply to be with God as His beloved children…