Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 7 August 2016 (Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-22; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12; Luke 12:32-48. You can find the readings here.
The readings evoke for us the way to live the life of the Kingdom now – a life of radical trust, alert and expectant. The passage from Wisdom is part of an extended reflection on the Exodus. This vignette has the People of God standing around the table on the night of the first Passover, eager and ready for the journey. They are still in Egypt, the land of slavery, and Pharaoh is refusing to let them go. Nevertheless, looking back, they trust God’s promises and so they are facing into the anticipated journey with joyful courage. That had been the way of life of their ancestors, Abraham and Sarah, as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us.
In the Gospel, Jesus assures his followers: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, because it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” The Kingdom is the reign of God, where God’s way of love is fully present. We’re called to live out of that reality in a world where so much of what we see and experience is its opposite. No wonder then, we are called to live by faith, which the writer to the Hebrews describes as the evidence of realities that as yet remain unseen. The Kingdom of God may be among us as something small, the mustard seed, but it should not be entirely invisible. Jesus calls his followers to make it visible in the way they live and act now. (“Sell your belongings and give alms.”) It is a Kingdom completely unlike Pharaoh’s Egypt, a world of scarcity and exploitation where those with wealth and power hang on to it for dear life. Did you notice the strange image at the heart of Jesus’ parable? When the master returns from the wedding banquet home to where the servants are waiting, it isn’t to demand a nice hot bath, or a cup of whatever it takes to make him comfortable after feasting and dancing into the wee hours. No, the master puts on an apron, seats the servants at the table and serves them. That is how things work in the Kingdom which has already been given to us as gift. What is our response? It should be one of radical generosity, because of our utter trust in the kindness of this crazy Lord who serves his servants.