Homily October 27th – Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer – From the Pulpit

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Lk 12:54-59

            In today’s Gospel Jesus harshly rebukes the crowds because they are ignorant of the signs of the times. They were accustomed to reading the skies, and knowing what the weather would be like; on this depended the worldly livelihood of many of them, especially fishermen and farmers. That wind is a very particular sort of wind, a hot wind that scorches and kills vegetation; the farmers had to prepare for it. Yet, when it comes to something even more important, recognizing the Savior who is to come, the crowds are woefully ignorant. They’ve all seen Christ’s miracles, yet, even though “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Lk 7:22), this all means nothing to them.

            Therefore, Jesus offers them the analogy of being brought to trial, an analogy for our lives as we make our journeys through life here on earth before we die. The Fathers of the Church have interpreted the “opponent” in different ways, but to the same general effect: Saint Cyril of Alexandria wrote that is it “wicked Satan [who] has a lawsuit against us and accuses us, because he is the enemy and the exactor. While we are on the way, before we have arrived at the end of our present life, let us deliver ourselves from him. Let us do away with the offenses of which we have been guilty. Let us close his mouth. Let us seize the grace this is by Christ that frees us from all debt and penalty and delivers us from fear and torment.” On the other hand, Saint Augustine says that “If you are committing a sin, your adversary is the word of God. . . .  In whatever sins you wish to follow your own will, it says to you, ‘Do not do that.’ [The word of God] is the enemy of your will until it becomes the assurance of your salvation. Oh, what an honest and helpful enemy!”

            Notice that Jesus tells the debtor to settle, meaning that as defendant his case is probably pretty weak, and he’s likely to lose if it goes to trial. In the same way, all of us are debtors to God on account of our sins. We can either “settle” during this life, by means of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, or we can face harsh judgment when we die. The Greek word for “constable” means, among other things, the official in charge of a debtor’s prison. Those who had debts would remain in prison until their property was sold or friends or family provided money; more often than not, they would simply sit in prison, languishing and unable to work and earn money as they could have had they been free,[1] perhaps an apt analogy for purgatory. The Greek word for penny is λεπτόν, and literally means “the smallest of coins.” It’s the same word used to describe the two pennies that the poor widow contributes (cf. Lk 21:2, Mk 12:42), and reminds us that little deeds done for God can be the source of our salvation and happiness, or, if omitted or willfully neglects, can be the cause of punishment.

            Today, then, we can ask ourselves about the way we live our lives. Are we making an effort to settle accounts with God, by atoning for our sins and turning to His infinite mercy? Are we making an effort to part ways with Satan? Or do we find ourselves idly walking the paths of this life, without our eyes fixed firmly on eternity?

            Let us ask through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, for the grace to see where we are falling into sin and imperfection in our lives, so that we can uproot those vices and settle accounts with our God.

[1] Cf. George Martin, Bringing the Gospel of Luke to Life.



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