Friday, 6 August 2010

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

This Sunday, in the Dominican Order, we celebrate the feast of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order. The readings used are however as normal from the 19th Sunday in Ordinary time with the Gospel taken from Luke (12:32-48).

There are a lot of different ideas in this Gospel. Jesus' sayings go from "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luk 12:32 RSV) to the warning to the servant who "begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk" (Luk 12:45 RSV) that He will "will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful." (Luk 12:46 RSV).

Last week we have heard Jesus warning about riches, and how they can lead us away from God. But the message of the Gospel is not about just what is bad for our soul, not a list where you find your position in life and see what not to do. Half way through the passage Peter is asking Jesus: "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" (Luk 12:41 RSV). The disciples closely following Jesus have given up everything, exactly as Jesus is asking: "Sell your possessions, and give alms; " (Luk 12:33 RSV). The warning of riches are not directly applicable to them (although, we know off course the story of Judas), but this parable of service is. So Peter is asking if Jesus is now just talking to them, and the answer is no!.

The invitation of God is not about 'what prevents us from entering the kingdom', the Gospel is not a recipe giving a different formula for each type of vocation in life. Instead it is a message of conversion, which brings Joy and hope. "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luk 12:32 RSV) This is the real message. It is about obtaining for ourselves purses that do not wear out, to build up a treasure in Heaven, and to accept the gifts the Father has in store for us! Following Jesus should result in a turn in our lives, it should automatically change our behavior so we do good, and by imitation of the image in which we are born to grow in Grace and closeness to the Father. This is the treasure that will last.

Once we hear the Gospel message, once the Word touches our lives, everything changes. It is a touch which will always remain with us. Hence at the end of the passage Jesus is warning about the "servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating." (Luk 12:47 RSV). Once we encounter Christ, once we start following the Gospel path, we know what is the right thing to do. When we however deliberately separate ourselves form this path, and choose not to follow God, we seperate ourselves from His love. Therefore somebody who "who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating" (Luk 12:48 RSV), as in this case it was not a deliberate choice.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luk 12:34 RSV) If our treasure is in Heaven, our aim and motivation complete unity with the God who is love, then our heart will be there too.

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