• Wisdom 18:6-9 • Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 • Luke 12:32-48 • 19 Ordinary C ‘13 •
Scripture Readings: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 08.11.2013
Two weeks ago I was in Portland, Oregon. A group of frustrated, discouraged and now alienated Catholic people invited me to come and spend time with them in reflection and prayer. They are members of what has been the most progressive parish in the archdiocese of Portland, until now! A recently appointed pastor swooped into the parish with his own agenda. He simply did what he wanted to do with complete insensitivity to the life and customs of these people. Their experience is similar to that of many other Catholic folks across this country. Perhaps you can relate to them.
The first generation Christians experienced the Risen Christ. They expected the Risen One to return in their lifetime. That created a problem for following generations when the Risen One did not return as expected.
As the delay grew longer they became frustrated and discouraged. Memories and stories evolved as they were passed on. How could they keep their hope alive? Eventually the gospels were written to assure that future generations would know Jesus Risen.
That helps us understand Luke’s parable about the attitude and behavior of servants faithfully waiting for their master. We are the servants! Listen to the words in this parable attributed to Jesus. “Do not be afraid.” “Be like servants who await their masters return.” “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” In other words – despite the delay, remain vigilant and prepared to welcome the Risen One when he comes.
We are living in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council – a time of great expectation! In that Council our bishops called us to spiritual renewal – John XXIII named it “aggiornamento.”
The meaning and implications of “aggiornamento” have been and continue to be a source of tension among us. The two recent Bishops of Rome — John Paul and Benedict, exasperated that tension as they set out to “reform the reform” and called a retreat from the vision of the Council.
My experience in Portland demonstrated for me once again that so many deeply committed Catholic people feel discouraged and frustrated. This parable in Luke’s gospel was not written for us but it does speak to our situation today. It calls us to journey into the future with confidence. We are the church. We are the People of God. Be “vigilant!” Be “steadfast in faith!” Don’t give in to frustration and discouragement!
Unfortunately, most of us, since our early youth, have been taught to be submissive and passive. I think the majority of our Catholic peers remain that way. The two recent Bishops of Rome understood this and gradually reasserted the pre-Counciliar model of what it is to be Catholic.
Most Catholics barely noticed or felt there was nothing they could do about it. The pervasive passivity of so many folks is one of the major sources of our frustration and discouragement.
However there are large numbers of Catholic men and women across this country and in Canada who are able to think, plan and promote new ways of being faithful to Jesus Christ. Such folks carry within them the hope of our future as church. You are among them!
Today the Catholic Church of North America needs people like you who care about our household of faith and want to share our heritage with people yet to be born. Stand up! Step forward! Speak out! As you share with others the perspective, courage and hope within you, you are engaged in rebuilding the church as set before us by the Council; a church open to the problems and challenges of this modern world in which we live.
The reasons for the frustration and discouragement are real. Still the Christ message remains the same. “The kingdom of God is at hand!” You may need to take an occasional vacation from our household of faith. But don’t give up. Be persistent!