Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, October 19, 2016 — “The servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour.”

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 475

Reading 1 EPH 3:2-12

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly earlier.
When you read this
you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to human beings in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit,
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same Body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace
that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Responsorial Psalm IS 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. (see 3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this:

LK 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 the servant 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.”

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Commentary on Luke 12:39-48 From Living Space

Today we have some further warnings on readiness. The unpredictability of God’s coming for the final call is compared to a thief breaking into one’s house. If one knew when the thief was coming, one would be prepared and have everything well locked up. Few people have not had this experience of being burgled or had their pocket picked. The point is that we do not know the day or the hour. And “the Son of Man will come when you least expect him”.

Peter asks if this image is just for the disciples or for the whole world. Jesus answers by telling a parable.

A faithful and farsighted steward is one who is found doing his job for the household whenever the master returns. The steward was one who had responsibility over the other servants and Jesus could be referring here to his apostles and other leaders of the Christian community. A trusted slave (‘servant’) too could sometimes be put in charge of an estate.

But if the steward feels that the master is “long in coming” and sets about abusing the rest of his staff and wasting his time in debauching himself, he will be severely punished when his master returns unexpectedly. We know that the early Christians believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime but, as time went on and there was no sign of Jesus, Christians could be tempted to become less vigilant and begin to ‘live it up’. It was a dangerous thing to do.

But then Jesus makes a distinction. Those who know their master’s wishes (like his disciples) but are found misbehaving when he returns will be severely punished. Those who do not know (non-disciples, outsiders) will still be punished for doing wrong but their punishment will be less than those who have received their master’s teaching and instructions.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 OCTOBER 2016, Wednesday, 29th Week of Ordinary Time
BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD’S FAMILY
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  EPHESIANS 3:2-12; LUKE 12:39-48 ]

In the letter to the Ephesians, St Paul reveals to us that God wants all men to share in His life and love, to belong to His Family. Christ came to bring all of us to share in the life and love of His Father.  It is God’s grandiose plan that we all become one in Him.  Indeed, St Paul says, “it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.”  We are called to be the body of Christ so that we can all belong to the family of God. The Church is the seed of the family of God, the sacrament of unity and love.  God wants us all to be united in Him and with each other in His Son, with Him being our head and we His body.  We are created to share in His life and love, that of the Holy Trinity.

Having been revealed this mystery, St Paul was given this responsibility of handing over the plan of God to all.  He knew that the revelation he received was never for himself alone but for the whole of humanity.  From being a recipient of grace, he was now called to be the messenger of grace.   Today, as Church, we have a duty too to share the Good News we have received.  That is why the Church is essentially missionary in nature.  The Church does not exist for herself but for the salvation of humanity.  As St Paul wrote, “So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the context of our time, when marriages are under threat, not just the family alone but society and the future of humanity, it is exigent that we who have received the gift of revelation must enlighten all humanity on the plan of God for the family and for marriage.  The laity therefore has a prophetic mission in the world to be at the service of the family.  We need the laity to be the salt and the light of the world, proclaiming the gospel of the family.  In a world where marriage is becoming just a choice and a private agreement between two persons, with increasing numbers of couples cohabiting and divorced; and others who choose to be single, we need to enlighten humanity on the beauty and joy of the family.

How do we do this?  Firstly, we must be proactive by preempting so that we will not degenerate to the extent that Western culture has reached.  Jesus in the gospel calls us the steward of God’s house.  He said, “You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.”   We are called to be good stewards of God’s household and guardians of the plan of God for humanity through the institution of marriage.   We can do this through education, formation and conscientizing our Catholics on the meaning of marriage and family in the context of God’s plan for creation.  Indeed, at times, when we proclaim the truth about the indissolubility, unity, fidelity and fruitfulness of marriage, we might seem like a voice crying out in the wilderness and worse still, ridiculed by the media and those who challenge our view of the family.

Secondly, besides education and formation, we need good witnesses of the gospel of the family.   We are called to be responsible in taking care of the family of God, our spouse, children and workers.  “What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?”  This is the question addressed to us.  Have we been good stewards of God’s grace and mercy?  Are we guardians of the family of God?  Have we safeguarded the people He has entrusted to our care, especially our wife and children?

Indeed, one of the causes for disillusion about marriage and family is the lack of living witnesses.  Married couples are individualistic, caring more about himself or herself than the spouse.  Parents are not exemplary in their faith and love for their children.  With divorce, infidelity and lack of love in the family, the marriage institution is seen as a burden.  The laity must be prophets not just of words but to have the courage to stand up against the current tide of society and the prevailing counter-culture that is being promoted, eroding the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the family. 

Before we teach others, we need to teach ourselves and live out our convictions.  We need to put our own house in order first.  We need to be good parents and spouses and set good examples and bring up our children in the faith.  We need parents and couples to be models of the beauty and joy of marriage and family life.  Otherwise, we have no credibility. It is more than teaching the world about the plan of God for the family, but to make family and marriage an attractive vocation in the world. The real challenge against marriage and family is the breakdown in marriages and family and dysfunctional families.  Hence, the institution of marriage and family is being redefined, as some think the conventional family is no longer viable.  We need to enlighten them by our words and by our own lives, proving that the Christian family is indeed what God wants for all of humanity.

To do this work, we need to draw grace and strength from the Lord.  Without His grace, we cannot be good spouses and parents.  With the psalmist we pray, “…with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”.  We need to be strengthened in our faith.  This is why the New Evangelization is the pre-requisite. Unless our faith is renewed, and we come to appreciate our faith, we will not be able to embrace the teachings of Christ.  We need to encounter Jesus, the Good News in person, so that He can be our guide to the fullness of life and love.  So on the level of knowledge and especially of prayer, this is absolutely necessary.

To draw water from the well means to be supported by the Church, the family of God.   Couples need to turn to the Church for formation, spiritual and moral support.  More facilities should be provided in terms of counselling.  Parishes must provide more services to the family.  More lay organizations could be formed to help to strengthen the family.  The Church should also accompany those preparing for marriage, and Christian couples who are in crisis, because of divorce or living in irregular situation.

For us who have been privileged to receive the mercy and revelation of God with regard to marriage and family, we have no excuse for being irresponsible guardians of the household of God.  For those who are ignorant of God’s revelation, they could be excused.  Jesus says, “The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash.”  By failing to act, we will hurt the future of our children and humanity.   Saint John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family”.  We must be the face of a counter-culture, offering humanity the gospel of the family through proclamation and witness of a holy life.  This is part of the work of the New Evangelization and an act of mercy to the work.  Gaudium et Spe reminds us, “The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family”. 

Indeed, if we are faithful to our vocation in life, we will find ourselves at peace and happy.  Otherwise, we will only hurt ourselves.  Jesus warns us, “Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns.”  So with confidence, the Church looks to the younger generation to believe that they are capable of authentic and lasting love.  Indeed, we must look at the future of the family with hope rather than with gloom.  Notwithstanding the challenges, we want to say that this situation can be arrested and we can turn the tide in favour of the family.  The Lord is with us and He will see us through.  Jesus Christ is the Lord of History.  He has overcome sin and death.  Following His path, we too will preserve the family and the future of humanity.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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