Reflections

NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 2019

1. Stand Ready in Faith
2. God Is with Us 
Introduction
1. Stand Ready in Faith
It is surprising how many people live in fear: fear of illness, fear of losing their beloved ones, fear of their own death, fear of today, fear of tomorrow. A popular Nigerian Afro-beat musician says, “We make up every reason to fear.” But Jesus assures us: “Do not fear! Do not give up your hope! Have faith!” Even when we go through difficult days, we should never give up our faith and hope (which doesn’t die); we should always stay alert to the Lord and to his loving coming among us. In this Eucharist we ask the Lord to keep us always attentive to his presence. 

2. God Is with Us
If we knew from the beginning the difficulties we would have to cope with before we could bring something to a good end, would we have had the courage to begin the work? And even then we fail at times. Yes, we would have done it and do it again if we had faith and hope and strength of character. That is what faith and hope are all about: to do what we have to do, to go on even if we are working in the dark, for if we have faith we know we are not alone. God is with us, there is a promise and a future, and the dawn will come. In this Eucharist we ask the Lord, siting at the head of the table with us, to give us strength. 

First Reading: Trust in God’s Promises
When God’s people had to pass through trials, they recalled the night of the first Passover, when God had saved them. 

1 Reading: Wisdom 18:6-9
The night of the passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution. 

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
R. (12b) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance. R.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine. R.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you. R.

Second Reading: Abraham, Father of the Faith
Abraham became a pilgrim of faith because he trusted in God’s promises. He is our model, even if, like him, we don’t see where God will lead us. 

2 Reading: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the Promised Land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol. 

Alleluia: Matthew 24;42a, 44
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel: Prepared for the Lord’s Coming
Our faith should be so firm as to make us trust in the word of Jesus and to be ready to meet him any time. 

Gospel: Luke 12:32-48
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” 

Commentary
This is a “stay awake!” reading. Luke’s story is like a cut-down version of Matthew’s parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (five wise and five foolish). “Stay awake!” Jesus keeps saying. “The Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”
How do we read this? He comes every moment, does he not? But if he had put it that way we would surely go back to sleep! Anything that happens all the time loses its mystery for us—even though all the most mysterious things are things that happen all the time. If there’s a promise of some excitement we wake up; but even then we go back to sleep again if it’s too long delayed. Our attention is intermittent. Half the sins of humankind are caused by the fear of boredom, wrote the English philosopher Bertrand Russell. It is a huge problem in an age of over-stimulation. Boredom is the opposite of attention. I remember a carpenter’s workshop in Germany: on the wall was a piece of wood with the word “Achtung!” carved on it. It has the double meaning of “attention” and “respect”. What a fine word! How good it is to keep them together in one word, as the Germans do! Attention because of respect; respect because of attention. Attention as a form of respect; respect as a form of attention. 

Blessing
We have watched and prayed with the Lord.
Let us be people who wait
for the return of the Lord,
ready to open the door
as soon as he comes and knocks.
For the friend or the stranger who knocks
is the Lord himself.
May almighty God bless you all,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Let us go in peace,
trusting in the Lord and serving one another.
R/ Thanks be to God. 

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