Posts from Fr. Hall 

Sunday 7th August.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022

Never has it been more necessary to be on the alert for all kinds of travel disruptions as it has this summer. There have been queues at ferry-ports and airports, strikes on the railways and the Metro, flights and trains cancelled at short notice, baggage lost at airports for days on end, traffic-jams in popular holiday destinations, and so it goes on. The list is almost endless. Being alert, being aware of what is going on in all aspects of our life is part of our human condition. It helps to keep us safe and to live life as smoothly and happily as possible.

Just as it does in other aspects of life, alertness, awareness of what is going on around us is equally important when it comes to the spiritual dimension of our life. This is what lies at the root of the teaching in today’s Gospel.

For most parables the message is contained in the contrast between beginning and end. So, for example, with the Parables of the Sower and the Mustard Seed, what seem like poor beginnings turn out to have incredibly fruitful conclusions. The message, originally for people who were suffering persecution and perhaps being tempted to give up on their faith, is to stay faithful, the ultimate results of your journey will be far more than you can imagine.

The contrast in today’s Gospel is perhaps best connected with the parable we heard last Sunday. An arrogant landowner who had had a bumper harvest ignored his spiritual needs in order to enjoy himself and build bigger barns to store his crops, only to be called to account before God before he could enjoy his apparent wealth. By contrast in the parable in today’s Gospel we hear of servants who are prepared for the return of their master. When he does come the rewards are beyond imagining. Instead of them waiting on his every whim, the tables are reversed and he waits on them! This is a wildly improbable scenario, but it goes to emphasise even more the rewards awaiting the faithful and attentive disciple.

However, faithfulness and attentiveness to the needs of the Master and his unexpected coming are not the end of the matter. The disciple is also warned about his/her conduct in going about their business. The disciple is to treat everyone with care, respect and love – because that is the way the Master treats us. Power over others is never to be abused which, very sadly, is a lesson that was not always practiced by a number of clergy in the past, to both our great shame and with the result that passing on Jesus’ core has become much more difficult to convey to a society understandably sceptical and suspicious because of past bad example.

Preaching the gospel message has never been plain sailing in any generation. It is certainly not today, but the need for that message in which we are promised a master who sits us down to table and waits on us, has never been greater. In that Gospel passage we are encouraged to be alert, always to be getting on with the business of following gin Jesus’ footsteps, and in that way to pass on his message of care, respect and love.