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August 11, 2019 Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily

Jesus said, “Be like those who are waiting for their master to return.” [Lk. 12:36] In this command, we find the beautiful virtues of faith and patience.
In the past there was a city in United States where at one time, ten percent of working fathers were truck drivers. Those working parents spent a lot of their time on the road, sometimes weeks at a time. At home, the most common question that cried out of the mouth of the young children was, “When is dad coming home?” To reduce the pain of the little ones, the mothers would reassure them that their fathers would soon be home. They would tell the little ones to believe and have patience, to just wait and see!
In a similar way, we cry out for the day when we will share in the fullness of the knowledge of our Father in Heaven. We cry out for the day when, through Jesus as our “Mediator,” [1 Tim. 2:5] we will come face to face with the glory of our Heavenly Father. In the meantime, we must persevere in our living faith, trusting in the future fulfillment of the promises handed down to us by the written Words of God that are found in the Holy Scriptures. Alongside all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Holy Catholic Church, we must steadfastly support one another “while we wait for the blessed hope.” [Tit. 2:13]
During today’s First Reading, we heard of the faith and patience of God’s people during their days of captivity in Egypt. In secret, His people offered sacrifices and lived according to the Divine Law. Their faith and perseverance, through both, blessings and dangers, were in the hope of sharing in the glory of the saints. [Wis. 18:9]
Finally, as God had promised through the former prophets, He delivered His children and destroyed their enemies. Through the fulfillment of this unsurpassable victory, God was glorified through His people.
During the Second Reading, we heard of the faith and patience of Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. [Heb. 11:8-9] Reviewing the faith of Abraham, he obeyed God and left his homeland for the promised land. There he lived in tents throughout his entire life, always looking towards to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. While he died in faith, not having inherited the Divine promises, he knew that he was a stranger and foreigner on earth. In his heart, he desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. And today in Heaven, he is rejoicing in his inheritance of the promises of God.
Abraham shined in faith and patience. He believed that though barren, his wife would conceive, even when she was too old. [Heb. 11:11] He believed that although he was in his old age, descendants would be born of him, these numbering as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. [Heb. 11:12] When asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, he believed that God could raise someone from the dead. [Heb. 17-19] In all things, Abraham had faith in God, patiently waiting to see how the goodness of God would develop. Such faith and patience is the model that all Christians should strive to imitate.
Today’s Reading from the Gospel of Luke tells us to be prepared in the sense of, “persevering in our living faith.” We should not relapse into the old sinful nature. Why? Because no one knows when the Lord God shall call us to appear before Him. After having persevered in our living faith throughout our lives, should we suddenly relapse so we can be counted among those who are lost forever? Certainly not! We cannot afford not to have our lamps lit. We cannot afford to be sleeping when we should be alert. We cannot afford to lose our salvation when we have endured so much until now.
Jesus said, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” In other words, the Kingdom of God has been created for us, for our eternal joy and peace in the continuous presence of God. The joy of the Lord and His angels is to see each and everyone of us finding our way home to the spiritual Kingdom.
Then, Jesus added, “Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.” In these beautiful words, Jesus tells us two things. First, those who persevere in their living faith, they are blessed. Secondly, faith and patience are regarded as spiritual virtues that are so great in the eyes of God that as a reward to those who possess these qualities, Jesus will sit down with them, serve them and eat with them. Where will this take place? In the Kingdom of God.
Jesus concluded His teaching by saying, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” [Lk. 12:48] In other words, some will have to give a greater accountability before God than others.
Those who are entrusted with the care of souls, more will be demanded of them. These persons consist of the clergy members, the parents who have children, the teachers, the politicians, the judges and lawyers, the police, etc… Each of these, according to their occupations, shall be made accountable.
Beyond any doubt, a mother who has children will have a greater accountability to give to God than a childless woman. What kind of accountability will that be? Parents will be asked if they raised their children in the Catholic faith, if their children were baptized, confirmed, made their First Communion, if they were encouraged to go to Confession and receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For all these things are spiritual obligations of Catholic parents.
As to the basics that the others will be made accountable for, they will be asked if they went to Church on every Sunday and the days of obligation, if they financially supported their Church with a generous heart, if they strived to spiritually grow in their faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, if they evangelized to others as the baptismal promises obligates them, if they received the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis, etc…
As can be understood from the aforementioned, there will be basic accountability regarding our personal sanctification and greater accountability regarding our obligation towards others. Those who enjoy the virtues of faith and patience, they have no fear. Why? Because they persevered in sound doctrines, trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide them in all what is good and holy. In obedience and submission, they welcomed the grace of God in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
The waiting servants in today’s Gospel have the task of being vigilant and opening for their master when he returns. The faithful or unfaithful servant has the task of administering his master’s household. In both parables the servants are tested by the delay of their master, and the faithful or unfaithful servant by the unexpectedness of that delayed return.                                                                                                Of course, these parables took on added significance in the life of the Church as believers began to face the fact that Jesus was not returning as soon as they had expected.                                                                                              By then, the Church had been around long enough to have had the sad experience of seeing the damage caused by unfaithful servants for whom their master’s delay has become a temptation to vice: abusive power plays and indulgent living. The master will return unexpectedly and punish those unfaithful servants accordingly.                                                                                                                                                        As a priest in the Church, I have to take these parables quite seriously, especially the second one which Luke specifically applies to the apostles themselves — and by extension, their successors. I think this is why Pope Francis seems to challenge bishops and priests to greater faithfulness every chance he gets.                                                                                                                                                                                                           That we should lead without abusing our fellow servants. That we should not act like we belong to the leisure class. That we should be merciful in the face of human weakness even when we must proclaim uncomfortable truths.                                                                                                                                                  That we should be courageous in the struggle against all that does harm to the human spirit. Vigilant like the waiting servants, ready to open when the Lord comes to us disguised and broken. Persons of integrity worthy of our master’s trust and confidence.                                                                                     And what is true for me and my fellow priests and bishops is true for every one of you as well. You have been given responsibility for a portion of the master’s household. Be vigilant, you too will be called to account, for the master may come when you least expect.

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