Serving the in between: context

Holy-Face-of-Jesus-2335 “Gird your loins and light your lamps 36 and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 37 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. 38 And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 39 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. 40 You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

41 Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 42 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? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 45 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, 46 then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48 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.

Our gospel follows after the Parable of the Rich Fool (18th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Luke 12:13-21). Unfortunately, the passage in between (vv.22-34) is not used for a Sunday gospel – yet it carries an important context for our passage and serves as a bridge between the lesson of the rich fool and our text which seems to speak of the second coming of the Son of Man and the judgment that awaits.

22 He said to (his) disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! 25 Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. 28 If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 29 As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. 30 All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. 32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 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. 34 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  (Luke 12:22-24)

The “missing” text provides the motivation to “Gird your loins and light your lamps” (v.35) – in other words, to get ready because you are and will be well provided for.  These verses (vv.22-34) address our motivation by pointing to the care of a loving Father.  If one to give a short summary of the verses, it might appear as such:

  • Life is more than food, life style, and possessions – all these things are provided for by God.
  • Want proof?  God provides these things for the ravens (a traditional “unclean” animal) and if God does that for the “unclean” then how much more do you think God will do this for you?
  • So don’t’ be anxious
  • While you may want those thing – look and learn what the Father wants to give you.  He wants to give the kingdom!! (v.31)
  • Make room in your life to receive the kingdom with open hands and arms – give your “stuff” to the poor (give “alms”) and be merciful.

What God requires of us is to give alms, in other words to give to the poor. The word translated “alms” is eleemosyne, which comes from a word meaning “mercy.”  At the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus said “‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” This message is repeated in the command to “Sell your belongings and give alms” (v.33)

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