Reflection for the eighth Sunday after Trinity and the Commonwealth Games.
”Do not be afraid…. Be dressed for action….. You also must be ready.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Luke 12:32-40, NRSV.
“I’ve not had an easy road. My appendix ruptured five weeks ago, I fractured my foot two weeks ago and I still managed to walk away from the Commonwealth Games with three gold medals. I really am glad I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference.” Joe Fraser, gymnast.
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus urging his followers not to be afraid, words of encouragement given at the end of a series of teachings to his disciples and the crowds following them. He has urged them to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air in reminding them of God’s care for creation and so his words telling them not to be afraid are about trusting God for what they need in whatever lies ahead.
Jesus gives very practical advice initially – his followers are to sell their possessions and give alms to the poor, an indication that they were not themselves poor and owned things that could be sold. At a time of looming economic crisis and possible recession today, when some families are already saying they won’t be able to pay their way this winter, this is a timely reminder that difficult decisions may lie ahead for many people who may be in need of support from those around them. Jesus talks of the treasure in heaven and, when many may be downhearted, his words remind us that we, like those first disciples, also need to trust in our relationship with God as well as those around us.
Jesus goes on to say that his followers are to be dressed and ready for action – he makes the point by mentioning servants awaiting the return of their master, the time of which is unknown. The middle watch was from midnight and the last before dawn, so these are good, faithful servants who are ready for his return and the master is so pleased that he makes them sit down and serves them a meal himself. How topsy turvy are the values of the kingdom of heaven!
His disciples are told by Jesus that, like those hard workers, they must also be ready for an event that he is clearly anticipating and for which he wants to prepare them. Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection are clearly part of this but the Bible also speaks of his return as King and Lord. Many are wondering whether we are nearing that time with such terrible events happening in our changing world today but Jesus also reminds his followers not to be afraid but to be ready whilst waiting for what will happen.
Do not be afraid, be dressed for action and ready – that was evident in the challenges facing the gymnast Joe Fraser. He has won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games despite a ruptured appendix and a broken foot – he was ready and determined to continue to do his best and make a difference despite the setbacks he was facing. Despite the challenges we are facing, we are asked to do the same and, in case it’s thought this is age related, remember George Miller, the Scot who has just won a gold medal in the Games for mixed bowls at the age of 75!!
As Francis Thompson puts it in his poem The Kingdom of God:
“O world invisible, we view thee,
….upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry, – clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!”
With my prayers; pob bendith,