Homily Twenty - seventh Sunday of the Year C 2nd October, 2016
First reading. Habakkuk 1:2-3,2:2-4
Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 94:1-2,6-9. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Second reading. 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
Gospel Luke 17:5-10
In the gospel this weekend Our Lord reminds us that we are servants and disciples of God's word…. Our duty is to teach, to witness and to live the values of the gospel, no matter how challenging they are, and irrespective of the opposition or the ridicule we will receive from some sections of secular society.
Living the gospel is difficult… and challenging… and it will often meet with trials, opposition or challenges……. Hence the request of the Apostles' in today's gospel….that Jesus increase their faith. The Apostles realise the seemingly impossible demands of discipleship. However, Jesus does not grant their request; rather he reminds them (and us), that abundant faith is not required for discipleship. Even a little bit of faith is sufficient to do great things. It is not quantity of faith, it is how one puts it into action, and put our actions in the hands of God's grace.
We sometimes think people of faith are those who do great things for God and Church. Actually, faith is as readily expressed in ordinary, everyday acts of service and love and kindness.
Such growth or love and faith comes in answer to prayer and it is something the Lord accomplishes in disciples. We cannot 'will ourselves' or 'make ourselves' have more faith, it is an act of God's grace.
Jesus' reply to his disciples is a stinging rebuke. In effect he says, 'More faith? If you had any faith at all - faith as puny as a tiny mustard seed - you could do great things!' But doing great things is not the point, as the parable goes on to explain. What is required is merely doing what is expected. A servant's job is not in itself extraordinary, and nor is it dramatic or histrionic. The work of a servant does not draw attention to oneself. A faithful worker does what the master commands, namely, both the field work as well as serving at table. Similarly, disciples who are servants of the Lord must do what they are commanded, even forgiving others seven times a day. Though this may seem extraordinary, it is in fact merely required.
Doing what is required is stressed three times: the servant must do 'what was commanded' (17:9), disciples must do what they were obliged to do (17:10), and finally, (Jesus using a striking and dramatic example)….the mulberry tree, when commanded to be uprooted and transplanted would DO what the disciples demanded (17:6). Jesus thus instructs disciples that 'faith' is expressed in action… and even more precisely in obedience to him. THE GOSPELS teach us that obedience to God is not something that lessens us or demeans us, but it actually an expression of love, and of faith.
The image of the "servant" or the "slave" in this weekend's gospel is rather jarring, (even more-so to modern listeners!). Jesus is telling us that we should have the mind and heart of a servant, not of an arrogant master…. Sure, we are indeed heirs to God's Kingdom and sons and daughters of God…. But pride is the mother of all sins…. And if we develop a sense of entitlement, of presumption.. if what we do fills us with a sense that God or others owe us something… this is utterly corrosive…. Everything we do must be for the building up of God's Kingdom alone, or else it will unwittingly contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of self, at the expense of God's Kingdom…. It becomes a form of idolatery,.,,,,,,In this weekend's gospel, Jesus teaches that in the life of a community all must deny their own self-focused designs, and be detached from their own selves, Jesus uses the example of the servant.
In those days, a servant (or a slave) could not merit anything. The master, (hard and demanding), was entitled to and expected only their service; and it was not normal to thank a slave for doing what was their job. The servant could be the hardest working, most dedicated worker for his master, but should he demand gratefulness for this? ... isn't he only being diligent in performing what is expected of him? It is very sobering, and it really is rather deflating for any disciples who might be tempted to be proud and make their discipleship about themselves and meeting their own needs; or drawing attention to oneself…. One who might dare to have illusions of grandeur or superiority….. For, the servant is never greater than their master. For God we are like a slave before his master. This is calling us to humility. Like a slave before his master we cannot and must not seek to obtain merits before our brothers and sisters in the community.
I must admit, as jarring as this image is, I really, really like it. Isn’t it true that pride and an inflated sense of one’s own importance is at the centre of a lot of conflict, a lot of misunderstanding, disunity and frustration and resentment.
This image is put forward by Our Lord as the ideal image of how we should see our calling to be disciples – to be servants with tasks in relation to God and God's Kingdom, rather than any sense of entitlement, or reward, or even the idea that we can somehow earn or merit God's love or that God should thank us for doing what is merely necessary in our task of building up God's Kingdom, and for giving back to God and giving unceasing thanks to God for what is rightfully God's. (And, of course, what is rightfully God's is….. everything!)
Fr Paul W. Kelly
Ray Campbell, Ph.D.; Director, Queensland Bioethics Centre.
Living Liturgy – Homily reflection notes.
Prepare the Word, reflections 2013.
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Twenty - seventh Sunday of the Year C
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you were lifted up to draw all people to yourself: Lord, have mercy//You shouldered the cross, to bear our suffering and sinfulness: Christ, have mercy// You open for your people the way from death into life: Lord, have mercy//
1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.
3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.
Sundays Ordinary VIII p.32
Eucharistic Prayer III p.58
Go forth, the Mass is ended.
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