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August 7, 1992     The Message
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August 7, 1992

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7, 1992 The Message Monthly -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary By FATHER ONALD DILGER Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Aug. 9, 1992, Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C: Luke 12:32-48. Today's gospel reading gives us a variety of material. It begins with advice not to be afraid. Afraid of what? In the context Luke had quoted Jesus telling his disciples not to be anxious about material possessions, even the necessities of food, drink, shelter. They are not to be afraid to put these matters into the hands of God. They are to "seek the kingdom of God first," and all these things will be added. That takes a lot of faith. But the Lucan Jesus insists: "sell your possessions and give alms." They are to provide themselves with social security in the kingdom, a place where it can never be lost. Is this impractical advice? Not many would be bold enough to try it. Even those who give up all have to work for basic necessities or depend on others who do work. What does Luke mean when he says, "It has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom?" What is "the kingdom" in Luke's theology? Luke never defines it. He speaks of "the kingdom of God is within you," but also speaks of the king- dom of God drawing near, i.e. at the end of time. Perhaps Luke himself was struggling in his theol- ogy with the concept of the kingdom. On the one hand it is the acceptance of the lordship of God and/or Jesus within a Christian. On the other hand the kingdom also refers to a future when those who practice a Christian life of repentance and forgiveness will enjoy total union with God. A promise of the kingdom: Parables of watchfulness Luke's concept of the kingdom has a foundation in the Book of Daniel, chap. 7. That author speaks both of the kingdom being given to "one like a Son of man," and "to the people of the Saints of the Most High." Luke now adds a parable about being watch- ful for the return of Jesus. There was strong ex- pectation of Jesus' imminent return as much as there is today among fundamentalist Christians. Luke dealt with the problem of people losing their faith because Jesus had not returned. Since he does not know the time of Jesus' return any more than we do, he can only say: "You must be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an unex- pected hour." Peter, usually the spokesperson for the disci- ples, wants to know if the parable is directed at just the twelve disciples are at all disciples. There is no direct answer. Instead there is a para- ble about a faithful and wise manager who is in charge of his employer's property while the em- ployer is gone. A good manager will be rewarded. A bad manager will be beaten. Much will be re- quired of those to whom much has been en- trusted. The parable answers the question. Every episode, saying, or parable that Luke selected to be included in his gospel had some purpose of teaching or warning for his own Chris- tian community about fifty years after the death of Jesus. The indirect answer to Peter's question is therefore that these parables of watchfulness are directed chiefly to the leaders of the church for which Luke is writing. They have been en- trusted with more. Therefore more will be re- quired of them. What was going on in Luke's church? What abuses of church leadership was he trying to cor- rect? In the parable the bad manager becomes abusive toward the other servants and gets drunk. Was such behavior widespread among church leadership? The First Letter of Peter warns the el- ders of the church not to be domineering over the flock. The First Letter to Timothy warns that drunkards are to be excluded from the office of bishop or deacon. Matthew also presumes abu- sive behavior among the elders of his church. For those who view positions of leadership as power rather than service, the danger of abuse is always at hand. For those who serve well: "Blessed is that servant when his master arrives." Of course these parables apply also to each and every Christian. All must be watchful. All are entrusted with something for which they will have to give account to their Judge. The fact that these parables are closely connected with Luke's advice on the acquisition or disposal of property indicates that they are warnings to all of us. Are we good managers of the time, treasure, talent that has been entrusted to us, or do we imitate the had manager in the parable who spent his time eating, drinking, and getting drunk? The warning is always current: "Much will be demanded of those to whom much is given." Other readings for Sunday, Aug. 9: Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1.2, 8-19. 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Major responsibilities are to plan, organize, implement and participate in annual;fund- raising campaigns. Please send complete resume before August 28 to: .:,,i ,., CEF Search Committee ' P.O. Box 4169 Evansville, IN 47724-01,69 - '11 I