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Becoming rich by becoming poor

Today’s gospel teaches us how not to get caught by surprise at the end of our lives?—Jesus responds to the question with three parables.

The first: a gentleman goes to a wedding party and leaves his servants at home. The servants know that the master will come back and they must be ready to welcome him, but they do not know when. What are these enigmatic images of when and how the Lord returns about?

The answer that comes to mind is: we have to always be prepared to welcome the Lord. 

Vigilance is equivalent to the constant availability to serve. The Christian does not have free moments when there is no need to be ready to help those who need help.

Two images effectively describe the vigilant disciple: he dresses for action and keeps the lamp burning. Anyone in need should know that they are always available. The disciple is always on duty.

The parable ends with one of the most beautiful images of the whole bible: blessed are those servants who, in return, the master will find watching. He will gird his clothes, will make them sit at table and wait on them. It is the promise of bliss reserved for those who are part of the kingdom of God.

The second parable: the Lord is compared with a thief who breaks in suddenly; a unique image, which later Peter and Paul would use in their letters. Strange image! It is a unsympathetic God who waits for the worst possible moment to surprise and sentence them to perdition.

The meaning of the parable is not this. It is true that the Lord meets us at the end of our lives. The most important message is certainly, be prepared.

However, if we observe well, death does not always behave like a thief. It typically announces its coming; it is preceded by specific signs: old age, sickness, pain and decay.

The sudden coming of the Lord is another story. They are visits that take us by surprise like that of a thief. They are those in which he comes not to steal, but to save, to invite us to welcome the kingdom of God. 

The image of the thief has an undeniably intimidating tone. The aim is to warn of the danger of losing the opportunity of salvation that never arises again.

The third parable is introduced as a response to Peter, but addressed to those who in the community have been tasked with a responsibility.

They are called admin-
istrators
, not masters. They have in their hands the goods that do not belong to them and of which they must render an account. 

Luke describes the behaviour of the unfaithful servants in stark realism: he speaks of idle people, who squander in revelry and carousing, using arrogant tones and behaving like despots.

They are running the danger of finding themselves excluded or cut off from the group of disciples and placed among the infidels. 

It will be tragic for them to have to admit, when it is too late to remedy them, that they used the gifts of God in the worst way.

The image of the lashes, which concludes the passage, underlines how despicable the behaviour of these leaders of the community. 

They are in the privileged position of those who know the Lord’s will better than others and are equally unfaithful. Their responsibility is greater.

 

Father Fernando Armellini SCJ     
Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com