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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Vigilant Disciple


lamp_in_the_dark“Jesus said to his disciples:‘Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have the servants recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come’” (Luke 12:35-40).
 
The discussion between Jesus and his disciples is picking up momentum. The stakes are higher and Jesus warns them about what to expect. They will be persecuted because of him. They will encounter hypocrisy. They must rely on God to sustain them.
 
The parable in this gospel passage deals with Jesus’ return after his ascension into glory. Jesus is the master who returns after the wedding feast. When the Lord returns, he will serve his guests as they recline at the table. Even after Jesus’ glorification, he will return to assume the role of humble servant. Leaders of the community are to follow his example.
 
Luke insists that detachment from worldly goods constitutes preparation for Jesus’ second coming. Disciples are to sell what they have and give to the poor. It is the heart of radical discipleship. Jesus acted as the example. Jesus lived the simple life, and in so doing lived in freedom. Such freedom empowers the servant to live for others.
 
The reference to burning lamps is an allusion to Passover, reminding the disciples that Christians are heirs to the liberation Jesus won by his death and resurrection. Jesus invites us to participate in the Paschal Mystery, and when we offer our suffering to God for the sins of the world, we share in the mystery of the cross.
 
The allusion to reclining at table is also a reminder of the Eucharist. We remember that Jesus gave us his presence in the midst of his absence. We memorialize his death and resurrection, and participate in that event at every celebration of Eucharist. Christians are fed the bread of life so they can, in turn, go out and feed others as they await Jesus’ return. Today’s gospel reading is also a catechism on preparedness. Christians are to be ready for the Master’s return at a moment’s notice.
 
– What does it mean to be prepared for the “return of the master”?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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