As we continue our long Summer journey through Ordinary Time, sometimes you hit a sequence of readings where you are forced to ask the question… what does this all mean? What am I supposed to get out of this? For me, this coming Sunday is one of those times. Perhaps with a little unpacking, we can find a theme we can grasp onto.
The Word for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 (or short version Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12)
Luke 12:32-48 (or short version Luke 12:35-40)
We open with a reading from the Book of Wisdom. First, it’s important to remember that this book dates itself to some 50 years before Christ… making it contemporary literature for the Disciples. Based on the date alone it’s no surprise that we see a lot of its teachings reflected in Christian theology, but even more poignant is that its message addressed to an oppressed minority. Using images of the Exodus, it stands as a reminder to remain faithful to the Lord. Our passage for this Sunday is just such an example, calling to mind the Passover, reminding us that it was the steadfast faith of their ancestors in the Lord that won them their freedom. An important memory to recall for a post-Exile people who see their faith being challenged both internally and externally.
Our Gospel from Luke, a continuation of Jesus’ travels on his journey to Jerusalem, also reflects the memory of the Exodus through phrases like “Gird your loins and light your lamps.” In this case, however, Jesus gives us concrete examples of what it means to be faithful to the Lord. Jesus reminds us that we need live like vigilant servants… to always be prepared, because we know not the hour when the Son of Man will come.
I think it is our second reading, however, that helps us pull together these readings: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for…” Hope is what drives us. Hope is what sustains us. Hope in the salvation that was promised to Abraham, and is waiting for us through the risen Jesus. Staying faithful to our Christian ideals is often difficult, and sometimes monotonous. We can easily find ourselves asking “what’s all this for?” especially when we see those of little or no faith seeming to fare better than us. But at what cost? The loss of one’s ideals? The mistreatment of others? As we focus more on ourselves, we lose sight of the true nature of love… that of sacrifice. Of giving to others. Whether rich or poor or somewhere in between, always living as the servant. For in that is the hope of salvation.