Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The “hour” often comes up in the Gospels.  Jesus told Mary, ‘my hour has not yet come’.   He speaks of, ‘the hour of the enemy’.  In Sunday’s Gospel, the parable is about our Lord coming at an hour we do not expect.  We learn from Luke’s verses in Sunday’s Gospel, the importance of doing during our hours on earth. 

Our Lord is speaking of his own second coming.  He likens his disciples to servants waiting for their master’s return, who each have their own work to do during his absence.  “Blessed,” he says, “is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.”  The warning may have a primary reference to the “official” ministers of the Gospel, they are the stewards of God’s mysteries, but the words also pertain to all of Jesus’ disciples—to us.

It is a striking fact that when Peter asks, “Lord, is this parable meant for us, or for everyone?” our Lord gives him no answer.  He does not directly, and in express words, answer Peter’s question.  Though the parable may have been directed to the Twelve in particular, it is a caution to all in general, and in it, Jesus exhorts his followers to be vigilant, prudent and faithful.

We hear a great deal about people’s good intentions, and hopes, and resolutions, and feelings.  It would be better if we could hear more about people’s practice of these good things.  It is not the servant who is found intending and hoping, but the servant who is found doing whom Jesus calls “blessed.”

The message of this parable is one which many may shrink from giving, and many more may shrink from receiving, for we have heard it told that to talk of “working,” and “doing,” is ‘legalistic’.   But the message before us is not about justification but about sanctification–not about faith, but about holiness.  The point is not what a person ought do to be saved–but what ought a saved person to do!

The teaching of Scripture is clear and expresses upon this subject. “I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds.” (Tit. 3:8.)  The desire then, of a true disciple should be, to be found doing.  This is to be like Christ.  He “went about doing good…” (Acts 10:38.)  This is to be like the apostles, they were men of deeds even more than of words: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8.)  To be doing is to be beneficial to the world–“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16.)

We learn, secondly, from these verses, the dreadful danger for those who neglect the duties of their calling.  Of such our Lord declares that they shall be gathered with the unbelievers.  The language our Lord uses about slothful and unfaithful servants is peculiarly severe.  Few places in the Gospels contain such strong expressions as these.  The servant that “knew his master’s will, but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely”. 

These words may apply especially to the ministers and teachers of the Gospel but we must not deceive ourselves by thinking they are confined to them.  The words of Jesus are meant to convey a lesson to all of us who are followers of Christ and stewards of his gifts.  Every hour is the hour of Jesus.  The parable encourages us to prepare for him.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”  The lesson of these words is one of wide application. 

Adult Formation