Lk 17: 5 – 10
Your Word is near, O Lord our God. Your grace is near. Come to us then, with mildness and power. Let us be open to hearing your word. Make us receptive and open to Jesus Christ your Son. He will come looking for us. He will save us today and every day, forever and ever.
Today we will go straight into reading our text. As you do so you will realise that there are two parts;
Verses 5 and 6 which contain a teaching about faith, and
Verses 7 – 10 which is a parable. We find this parable only in Luke’s Gospel.
Verses 5 – 6
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
You may ask, “What does this word ‘faith’ mean within the context of today’s reading?”
Most of us would answer this questions by reciting, “I believe in God the Father ….”, and in one sense you would be correct. Luke however is using it quite differently. Go back to our opening prayer. The words in italics will help you. Faith is an attitude of openness to hearing God’s Word. Those of us who are open to receiving the Word of God and being open to making changes in our lives, have faith. It takes much trust to believe that God is caring for us and will help us through the trials to life. No wonder the apostles call out, “Lord, increase our faith.” None of us wants to change. Perhaps we should be praying this prayer more often. “Lord, help me to recognise my short-comings, give me the courage to change.1
The passage immediately before our reading contains Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. “If your brother harms you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry’, you should forgive him.” (17: 1 – 4) “Limitless forgiveness”! Does Jesus really mean us to follow this teaching? By ourselves, I doubt this is possible. We will have to put our trust in God. Scripture assures us that “nothing will be impossible for God”. (1: 37) Let’s take Jesus at his word.
Once more we need to pray, “Lord, increase our faith. Help us to be just a little more forgiving each day.”
* * * * * *
Verses 7 – 10
Only Luke gives us this short parable. It speaks specifically about Our relationship with God.
The scholar of the law asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10: 25) Jesus adds at the end of his reply, “Do this and you will live.” Take note, there is nothing in Jesus’ answer about ‘eternal life’. It is all about the here and now. Today’s parable makes the lesson much clearer. Our God does not sit recording our good and not so good deeds on his computer. ‘Eternal life’ is a free gift given to us by an incredibly generous God.
Let’s use a parable of our own. Again and again we see athletes point to the heavens when they have triumphed. In doing this they acknowledge how generous God has been in gifting them.
Our good deeds are the fruit of the graces we have received. When we have done all things well it is gratitude that fills our hearts. God wants what is best for us. This is why He calls us to serve and he will not be outdone in generosity to us.
Nobody has a claim on God. It is God who favours us. No matter how good any individual is, he is always the one being favoured by God.2
Read the parable in the light of what has just been said. The ploughman does not expect his employer to make his supper. Nor should we think that we can buy a good seat in the kingdom of heaven. We can contribute to the Kingdom of God here on earth. This is a privilege and a gift in itself. We will also find that our God is generous beyond our wildest imagination, rewarding us, “Good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing.”(6: 38)
Let us put aside the idea of merits! Let us begin to be full of joy thanking God for the good we do! 3
Prayer for Generosity
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labour and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do your will.
St Ignatius of Loyola
- Edmonds P, A Companion to the Sunday Missal, p197
- McBride D, The Gospel of Luke, p 221-222
- Armellini F, Celebrating the Word. Year C, p289