Homily for August 25th,
AMy master is long delayed,@ the unfaithful servant in Jesus= story says. Behind those words lies the thought: >Maybe he=s not coming at all.= Then this unfaithful servant begins to act as if he were the master himself, abusing his fellow servants and breaking into his absent employer=s wine cellar to stage wild parties for his free-loading friends.
The unfaithful servant=s words, AMy master is long delayed,@ had special meaning for the community for which
his gospel. They believed that Jesus was going to return soon, within the
lifetime of some of them at least. As time went on and the Lord did not return,
many in Luke=s community were tempted to say: >Maybe he=s not coming at all.=
Jesus= story warns them not to yield to such thoughts; not to forget that they are servants who, one day, will have to give an account of their service. When they forget that, Jesus says, “the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely.”
That failure of faith is always a temptation for the Church, and for each of us who are the Church. We yield to this temptation when we use the blessings that God gives us through his Church solely for ourselves. That is why the Church is, and always must be, a missionary Church. We can=t keep God=s gifts unless we give them away. And when we do give them away, handing on to others the faith God has given us, we don=t become poorer. We grow richer. In passing on our faith to others, our own faith is deepened and strengthened.
Whenever in its 2000-year history the Church has forgotten its servant role; whenever the Church has settled in too comfortably and accumulated too much worldly power, prestige, and wealth, it has become inwardly flabby and spiritually sick. To find an example of this we need look no farther than the history of the Catholic Church in our own country from roughly 1950 to the present day.
What is true of the Church is true also of each of us, the Church=s members. We are servants: servants of the Lord, and servants too of our sisters and brothers. And we are people on a journey: pilgrims underway to our true homeland with the Lord B pitching our tents each evening, as we lie down to rest for the next day=s journey, a day=s march nearer home.