Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 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. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Luke 12:32-40 NRSV
Homily for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost by The Rev’d Glenn Empey
Jesus says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” But still you often hear people wondering these days, “What is the world coming to?”
Perhaps you wonder the same. I mean every other day it seems we read or hear about another random act of terrorism somewhere in the world. A disaster in northern Alberta pulls a shaky economy down. We are asked to limit water use and Nestle’s, a global megalith, petitions to extract, bottle and market millions of litres of water from the province’s water table. The opening ceremony of the Olympics targets global warming as a gold medal priority for action.
For those of us who have a tendency to worry, there’s really no shortage of things to worry about. Some of them are closer to home. Will retirement planning survive rising costs? Can I manage my health? Will my family be successful? Most of those worries may be first-world problems but they gnaw all the same.
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There are several messages in the Gospel today.
The first may sound like an admonition to live the ascetic life of a monastic under a vow of poverty. “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” But that’s not really what it means.
It means to set priorities, to be strategic in life and planning. Keeping God as a focus is what is meant. Keeping sight on God’s presence in the midst of it all. Being discerning. Being compassionate. Being generous. Having a heart open to God and to others. That is building up treasure in heaven. Things that really make a difference beyond the mundane of the obligations of daily life.
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The second is to be ready, to be expectant, to be full of hope. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.”
Of any evil in the world, goodness overpowers it. There is more good than evil, more light than darkness. It is being ready with an attitude of hopefulness and expecting all will be well. It is about being ready when God calls you to action. It is about listening without encumbrance.
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And there is a third message and that is: “Do not be afraid”. Or, to elaborate, do not let fear be overpowering. Do not let worry weigh you down. Do not be overly anxious. Fear, in itself, is meant to be a warning but when it becomes paralyzing or draining, it turns from being a warning to being an encumbrance.
This third message is meant to override any encumbrance, anything that paralyses or blocks off. “Do not be afraid.” Do not let worry gnaw away focus on what really counts. The message adds that God remains faithful to us. “Blessed are those […] 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.”
That is the message to hear in the midst of any distracting noise. God serves his servants. It is a two-way relationship.
The good news in the midst of the day-to-day realities of life is that centering on God is what disarms fear and worry. We just have to remember that and to know that. The fact is that we not only serve God but God serves the faithful.
And so Jesus says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Just imagine what that gift is meant to be because that is the overall message of the good news.
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