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Reflection on Gospel of Luke 12:39-48
My brothers and sisters, in order to better understand today’s Holy Gospel; let us explore the context of both, the Hebrews of the time in which Jesus was speaking, and, the wisdom of the Gospel for today and forever. The Hebrew term for slave, eved, is a direct derivation from the Hebrew verb, la’avÖd (“to work”), thus, the slave in Jewish law really only a worker or a servant. The eved differs from the hired worker (sakhir) in three respects: he receives no wages for his work, he is a member of his master’s household; and, his master exercises patria potestas over him – for example, the master may choose a wife for the slave and retains ownership of her and he has proprietary rights in him.
Our Lord talks about the servant: the servant who is obedient to his master’s wishes and whom his master will find busy upon his arrival. He also does not mince words while talking about the one who knows the master’s wishes but does not carry them out and that he will be ranked among those undeserving of trust. He is very clearly speaking to each one of us. Many countries around the world have witnessed slavery. It has a very negative connotation to it and rightly so [considering] for example, the way it was carried out in America. But there is another kind of slavery that is a freely chosen slavery. That is, a slavery that we choose to make ourselves obedient to another.
In today’s Holy Gospel, our good Lord Jesus teaches us that, preparation is very important for so many things. A wise person would not begin to prepare a recipe without making sure that they have all the ingredients at hand. It’s not different when it comes to the spiritual life. Spiritually speaking we prepare ourselves to meet the master by daily prayer, by acts of sacrifice and charity, by reading sacred scripture. Most importantly we prepare ourselves by receiving the Sacraments of the Church, fortified with Sanctifying Grace. So we prepare by going to Confession and receiving the Lord in the Holy Communion as often as possible. Spiritually we need to be prepared to meet our master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus talks about the master of the house possibly arriving at the “second or third watch of the night.” Being faithful isn’t a fling or a flash in the pan. We know that there will be “ups and downs,” moments of two steps forward and one back. Through it all we are called to persevere. Going the distance is not easy, but how beautiful it is! Pope Saint John Paul II gave us an indelible example of perseverance. What treasure does the Lord expect us to vigilantly guard in this present life? It is the treasure of the gifts he has won for us – the gift of salvation purchased by his blood on the cross which has ransomed us from slavery to sin, Satan,and death – and the gift of his Holy Spirit who works in and through us to make us a a new creation refashioned in the image of God. The Father and the Son through the gift of the Holy Spirit come to make their home with us. But we can ignore their presence, close our ears to their voice, or reject them through pride and unfaithfulness.
Satan comes like a thief in the night to rob us of our faith and to draw us away from God. He works with the world (that society which is opposed to God) and with our flesh (our sinful inclinations) to make us believe that we can find treasure and happiness apart from God and his will for our lives. The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.
Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart for you. Make it strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory. Keep me ever watchful for the coming of your kingdom.