19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (7 August)

Luke: 12:32-48

The exhortations we hear today come in a series of exhortations in this section of the Lukan Gospel. The previous ones have been mainly about the futility of our anxieties, and the futility of our hoarding and cherishing our possessions and achievements. Today’s advice is not a change of topic, but fits right in. We are being encouraged to have a disposition of watchfulness, like those servants who have been waiting and ready for their master to return from the wedding. No matter what time it is, they are ready to open the door. The simplicity of our lives opens us up to this attitude of attentiveness.

Lest we stress out about our readiness and start measuring our disposition of attentiveness, we might want to reread the story. This teaching of Jesus is not all about us. Here we are given a powerful image of God and God’s relationship with us. All we are asked to do is to recognize the knock and open the door. God takes care of the rest.

Most of us know what it’s like to come home tired and weary after a trip. Most likely it is not our normal pattern to say to those who let us in, “Now you sit down and take your rest, and I’ll fix you something to eat.” To the listeners of Jesus, the one returning from the wedding did not act in a normal manner either. Surely it was not the master’s place to wait on the servants who were merely doing what was expected of them.

sacred space flowerNeither was this the normal handed down image of God. God was to be served, and lest anyone might be confused there were multiple laws and guidelines about how to do this correctly. Those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus have continued this daft practice in our own tradition. But this is not the God of Jesus. The God of Jesus is among us as the one who serves. Jesus challenges us to be on the look out for the time of God’s visitation and to readily open the door. Then we will be served an endless array of God’s delights morning, noon and night, as well as at the in-between snack times.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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