Wisdom 18, 6-9 + Psalm 33 + Hebrews 11, 1-2, 8-19 + Luke 12, 32-48
Often when people comment to me about a particular homily saying that they feel as though I was speaking directly to them, I think to myself (and have sometimes said aloud), “That’s because I’m really always speaking to myself.” With this Gospel today, it occurs to me that the same thing may be happening with Jesus. When Peter asks that question, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” I wonder if Jesus was not thinking: “I’m talking about myself here. If you want to follow me, pay attention.”
Let’s remember that this parable in Luke’s Gospel is set during the Journey to Jerusalem during which Jesus has spoken of what is to come there. Very dramatic parables have been used like the Samaritan story, significant conversations have taken place with Martha and Mary, followed by an instruction on prayer making these far more than simply nice Bible Stories. When you think about what is shortly to happen in Jerusalem, these are the final instruction of Jesus to those who will remain. These are lessons left to us by a man walking to his death. These lessons are his treasure, and they ought to stir us up a bit on an August weekend. He is teaching us about care for our neighbors which might well include our enemies (wondering as I did here a few weeks ago why we would have any). He is teaching us about prayer and what really matters in this life. He is drawing us into himself, sharing with us what he must be thinking about as he makes his way to Jerusalem where he will forgive enemies, pray to his Father, and give up everything to possess the Father’s final and best gift, eternal life.
“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” While he is speaking to us, I truly believe he is speaking to himself as well. No one has been entrusted with more by God than Jesus Christ, and much was demanded of him. He must have known and believed that. As he entrusted so much to us who remain, he reminds us that much will be demanded of us as well. This is not just a matter of wealth and possessions. It is also a matter of faith with the expectations that we bear witness to and share what is entrusted to us in faith. True discipleship requires a depth of faith beyond ordinary measure.
People of faith, like you and me are called to a higher level of responsibility. We are called to be models of hope and of courage that comes from deep faith and lives consistently lived after the pattern of Jesus Christ. That courage which rests upon hope is what we see in Abraham in the first reading today. Knowing the long and rich tradition of Abraham surely shaped the faith of Jesus as he grew in wisdom and grace at a home in Nazareth. Abraham’s faith fulfilled his deepest hopes, and that is exactly what we see again in Jesus Christ. His faith in His Father fulfilled his hopes, and so it must be for us as well.
We cannot live as if this is all there is on this earth. The faith with which we have been entrusted gives us hope, and constantly directs our attention and shapes our values in terms of what is yet to come. “Entrusted”, “Demanded”, “Required” are strong and emphatic verbs that leap off the page at us who sometimes are tempted to be more interested in what we can get rather than than what we can give; in what we can keep rather than what we can share. Thinking that God’s generosity stops with us, and that what we have been given is all for us marks a failure of discipleship and stewardship.
The one who has been given the most has shown us how to live with what has been entrusted to us. The one who has been given the most has shown us what is required by his life of hopeful service, of prayer, and courage. Learning from Him, following him, and remaining one with him should leave us fearless and without concern when the time comes for the demand.