Wed, August 3, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

19th Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

Bible passages


Luke 12:32-48

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. "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 them recline at the 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." Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

Biblical Homilies


“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”  (cf. verse 32)

Today we are again dealing with a very serious Gospel. We hear again and again about the sudden death of a person, be it through an accident or that a dear relative simply lies dead in bed one morning. Through such experiences we are always shaken awake and reminded that it can also hit us at any time.

Jesus tells us clearly about this: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock! For your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." And this little flock - that is, of course, us. We are not to fear, for the Lord assures us of the kingdom. This is what shapes us and gives us joy.

"Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.." (cf. verse 33-34)

The subsequent invitation of Jesus: "Sell and go! (as it is more accurately translated in Greek) does not serve to unlock heaven for us first, but actually only its embellishment, because heaven is given to us as a gift. The Lord wants to surprise us. He wants to give us something glorious that we can never earn ourselves. When he asks us: "Sell your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor!", we are not to earn heaven by this, but to become free to be called into the glory of heaven at any time.

Do not collect, Jesus says, into bags with holes, where everything practically falls out again. That is the earthly collecting and thinking. Instead, lay up provisions in heaven, that is, do good! You have poor people among you. You can always do good, everywhere in the world and at all times.

And then a very important statement and a wonderful expression: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Interestingly, the treasures on earth are mentioned here in the plural, but the treasure in heaven in the singular. The earthly is multiplicity and fragmentation. The heavenly is a unified whole. And of course, our treasure is to be with the Lord, in His glory. Therefore, Jesus says: Be ready! Put away all this! Do not cling to anything! Do not let yourselves be bound anywhere, but simply be always ready, "ready to be picked up" at any time, so to speak.

"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 them 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." (cf. verse 35-38)

Because it is approaching the marriage of the Lamb, we too are to be girded, that is, simply standing by and waiting. We should go equipped or also try to work equipped, because the Lord can call us even during the work, depending on what he intends with us. So, it is a matter of both: of the disciple being active and of being watchful. The disciple is active and commits himself. He does not just sit down idly, but fights for the kingdom of God. But he is also always ready to be called immediately by the Lord.

Therefore, being awake is a state of heart, an inner state in expectation of the Lord. Just as we sometimes long to meet certain people and are already eager to do so; so too we are to wait for the coming of the Lord, where we will receive something that no eye has seen, and no ear has heard. It must be exciting when we see our relatives and friends again, recognize the many, and experience a fullness of life that we cannot yet fully imagine. Why don't we get more and more excited inside when we think of this goal? We watch and wait for something unique and final. And if the Lord finds the servant awake, he himself serves him with the food that the servant has prepared for the Lord. The Lord himself will serve me. This means eternal life. We are given infinite gifts.

The more the coming of the Lord is delayed, the more thankful the Lord is when we are found awake. Interestingly, Jesus does not speak of the first and fourth watch, but of the second and third watch. This means that his arrival cannot be expected too soon or too late. We don't know at what hour the Lord will come, whether in the second or third watch of the night, but if he finds us awake, then it is also true for us: "Blessed are the servants whom the Lord finds awake when he comes." So, let's just be ready!

"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." (cf. verse 39-40)

This passage points out the danger that between these vigils the temptation to fall asleep is probably the strongest. One no longer expects him. One knows he is coming, but one no longer expects it today. But the true servant of whom Jesus speaks here, who is always ready, does not lose the longing desire for the return of the Lord, the lighted house in the dark night is the image of "waiting for the Lord"; it is, as it were, the bridal congregation, the watchful church, waiting for the arrival of the Bridegroom.

In this second parable of the thief who might come by night and break in, the need to watch and the danger of careless security are explained. The servant is portrayed as the owner of the house. So, the Lord comes not only as one who replaces everything, but also like a thief who takes everything that is still held for himself. Jesus does not speak of a specific time, but only of faithful waiting. Rather, we are not to worry about the timing at all.

"Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful" (cf. verses 41-46).

In response to Peter's question as to who is meant by this parable, Jesus makes it clear: We are all meant. Everyone should seriously examine themselves! The steward in this parable is at the same time the servant, who is set over the servants. It is simply a matter of faithfulness. For if the steward has been faithful, has waited, and has really been on the go, the Lord will "make him steward of all his goods." But that is eternal life.

The faithful steward knows that he remains a servant. The unfaithful steward, on the other hand, acts as master, as Jesus then describes. He lives out his ambitious inclinations - sleeping, eating, drinking, intoxicating, etc. - and is suddenly called by the Lord when he no longer expects it. But this servant's excuse is, "My master is not coming back for a long time." But we should not let ourselves be deceived; Jesus says this very clearly here.

"That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely;and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (cf. verse 47-48)

In these two verses, we are no longer talking about watching, but about obedience. Interesting is the distinction between the servant who knows the will of the Lord and does not act accordingly, and the one who acts wrongly without knowing the will of the Lord. For this also clearly answers Peter's question, "Lord, do you mean by this parable only us or all the others as well?" We are all meant!

But those who know the will of the Lord have a special responsibility: Whoever knows the will of the Lord and does not do it must reckon with some things. But the one who does not know the will of the Lord and does not do it will not fare so badly. The latter will also receive blows, as the picture says, but not to the same extent as the first servant. So it is about the righteousness of the Lord. The Lord is just.

In conclusion, Jesus then distinguishes between what has been given and what has been entrusted: "To whom much has been given" - in Greek it is "edotè" (εδοθη) = given - "from him much will be reclaimed". But "to whom much has been entrusted" - in Greek it is "paretento" (παρεθεντο), that is, for administration, for safekeeping - "from him even more will be demanded." So, to whom something has been given, from him only what has been given will be demanded back, that is, the capital. But to whom more has been entrusted for safekeeping, from him more will also be demanded back, namely capital and interest. This reminds us of another parable of the servant who buried his talent instead of taking it to the bank so that it would yield interest. This is exactly what is meant. We are to deal with what the Lord has given us in our real life. We are to work with it and usury it in a good sense. The righteousness of God is also beautifully expressed here. To whom God gives much, He also demands much. And if someone knows the will of God and consciously acts against it, that is something completely different than if he does not know the will of God and unconsciously acts against it.

But we know the will of God. We can no longer talk our way out of it. But, this is to be understood positively: We can act according to this will of God. We are allowed to dwell in this house as those who are waiting. We fulfill our tasks without hesitation and do what God has called us to do. We are simply waiting, and the greatest happiness of our life is the coming of the messenger of joy, just as a bride waits until finally, the bridegroom comes. This is what Jesus wants to prepare us for here. Let us think again about the beginning of the Gospel: Let us really let go of everything that binds us to this earth, that burdens us and prevents us from this waiting, so that we cannot go to the wedding! Instead, let us prepare a treasure in heaven with everything, i.e., let us do good with everything that is given to us and entrusted to us, be it spiritual goods, be it material goods, be it with our labor power, etc. Let us do it simply out of love for the Lord, out of love for Jesus. Then we do not have many treasures that tear us apart inside, but we get the one treasure that fills us completely! This one treasure does not tear us apart, but it unites us, and we are then really this waiting bride church, which waits for the coming of the Lord.

Especially today, when we hear again and again about the sudden death of a person, the word of today's Gospel should hit us right in the heart: Of course, we can be called away at any time, but it should not be surprising. Rather, it should be something expected. This is what Jesus wants. He does not want to receive people who do not want to come to him at all. He wants to receive us with joy.