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Lectionary Reflection

Year C, Proper 14 Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Lesson

Luke 12:32-40

Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"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. 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. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

"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. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Reflection on Luke 12: 32-40 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Unlike terror alerts which expect the worst soon at unknown places, the alerts that come from Jesus expect the best “at an unexpected hour.” Accordingly, the mission of the Church is to focus on so long a prospect and so encompassing a purpose that the people of God may “stay the course” of God’s purposes through whatever terror comes.

Since we have been forewarned by intelligence services that terror attacks on the American homeland are likely soon and repeatedly, the signs of our times square with what Jesus in effect said: focus far beyond inheritance and self-centered treasure (Luke 10:13-21), focus far beyond food and clothing, concentrating beyond all that on “an unfailing treasure” (12:33) and on God’s ultimate rule in this world (“kingdom,” 12:31).

Our ultimate loyalties as Christians and as congregations of the “one holy catholic apostolic Church” are not placed in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, capitalism, and “the American way of life” (whatever that might mean to us). “The vision thing” of God’s people cannot be set aside, whatever urgency might try to distract our attention. Vision of God’s own future makes all the difference in the here and now of inheritance, crops, food, clothing, and “ample goods laid up for many years” (12:19). Only the long view of God’s purpose for all times and places can steady us when political campaigns try to influence our votes by replaying images of falling towers and warnings about worse things yet to come.

If we stay the course that God has set before us, if we “strive for his kingdom” (12:31), then neither greed nor anxiety nor fear can determine what we think and do. It will not be easy, souls have been required of people in such nights, terror attacks may well come, but they will not be the final focus of our attention. The mood of the Church in such times as these is, as it was for Martin Luther when he faced the terrible possibility of being made a martyr: “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

Peter the apostle asked what audience Jesus’ parables of watchfulness were supposed to reach: “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone” (12:41). Jesus’ answer elevates everyone into the determined committed mood of Luther and Church: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (12:48).

Here is how we face a future that may contain terror and protracted conflict, these are our guidelines: “Do not be afraid.” “Consider the ravens.” “Consider the lilies.” “Do not keep striving.” “Do not keep worrying.” “Instead, strive for his kingdom.” “Be dressed for action.” “Have your lamps lit.” “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Copyright Statement

Reflections on other Readings [Standard (Episcopal) and Revised Common Lectionary] for Year C, Proper 14

Revised Common Lectionary

Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary

Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Lesson:
Isaiah 1: 1, 10-20
no reflection available
Genesis 15:1-6
no reflection available
Genesis 15:1-6
no reflection available
Psalm 50: 1-8, 23-24
no reflection available
Psalm 33: 12-22
no reflection available
Psalm 33 or 33:12-15,18-22
New Testament Lesson:
Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16
no reflection available
Hebrews 11: 1-3 (4-7) 8-16
no reflection available
Luke 15: 1-10
this page
Luke 12:32-40
this page

John Gibbs, PhD, is a retired theologian, who attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2004. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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