19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: AUGUST 11, 2013. SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES:
(You are invited to share in reading this reflection with at least one other person, remembering ‘Where two or more of you are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of you.’ )
‘Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom… give alms…provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven… for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.’
It’s easy for the disciples of Jesus in any age to loose the energy, the drive. It’s easy to take the foot off the gas. It’s easy to take the eye off the ball, and lose the dream, forget what we are about. Every person, of whatever age, has work to do for Jesus, for the kingdom of God, the dream of God for the world. No hangers on, no spectators, no slackers… there’s work to be done! That’s the hard message. Read it firstly as a message for the early Christian communities, – and then read it for ourselves, in our situations, parishes, communities, families. ‘Gird up your loins and light your lamps.‘ Today.
Holidays are a time to relax. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously, at any time. Yet, how do we take this Sunday’s Gospel reading into our hearts? After the hard saying of last week’s Gospel ’You fool!’ to the rich man, this is a collection of sayings about vigilance. They would later become very real in the young church, thirty and more years later. It’s for disciples, all of us, not to lose heart or lose the Spirit in us from Baptism, in our time.
This scribe’s brain seems to be on holidays, like the rest of him. So, maybe we could take a reflection from a brain much better, that of Blessed John Henry Newman. It’s about being response-able, and ready, and willing for action,- being on the ball, being Somebody, for Christ.
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN:
“Year passes after year silently; Christ’s coming is ever nearer than it was. O that, as he comes nearer earth, we may approach nearer heaven! O, My brethren, pray him to give you the heart to seek him in sincerity. Pray him to make you earnest. You have one work only: to bear your cross after him. Resolve in his strength to do so. Resolve to be no longer beguiled by ‘shadows of religion’, by words, or by disputings, or by notions or by high professions, or by excuses, or by the world’s promises or threats. Pray him to give you what Scripture calls ‘an honest and good heart’ or’ a perfect heart’, and without waiting , begin at once to obey him with the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than none- any profession which is disjoined from obedience is a mere pretence and deceit. Any religion which does not bring you nearer to God is of the world. You have to seek his face; obedience is the only way of seeking him. All your duties are obediences. If you are to believe the truths he has revealed, to regulate yourselves by his precepts, to be frequent in his ordinances, to adhere to his Church and people, why is it, except because he has bid you? And to do what he bids is to obey him, and to obey him is to approach him. Every act of obedience is an approach,- an approach to him who is not far off though he seems so, but close behind this visible screen of things which hides him from us. The day will come when he will rend that veil, and show himself to us. And then, according as we have waited for him, will he recompense us. If we have forgotten him, he will not know us; but ‘blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he comes, shall find watching. He shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.’ May this be the portion of every one of us! It is hard to attain it but is woeful to fail. Life is short; death is certain and the world to come is everlasting.”
From the Parochial & Plain Sermons of John Henry Newman.