2 Mc 7:1,20-31; Ps 17:1, 5-6,8,15; Lk 19:11-28
Our prayer is heard; the Lord God attends to the outcries of lips without deceit. We walk steadfastly in the paths of holiness; our feet do not falter. We are kept as the apple of the Father’s eye; we are hidden in the shadow of his wings. In our justice we behold The Father’s face; on waking we are content in God’s presence. The first reading continues the story of courageous believers at the time of the Maccabees; this episode displays the fierce love of a nameless mother who watched her sons die for the faith. The one presented in the Temple today also, watched her son die in fulfillment of the Father’s will. The Lord Jesus tells a parable about a king and his kingdom. Some of his people want him; some don’t. Still, the true king of the future is the Lord Jesus whose kingdom is already among us!
The courageous mother spoke to her sons in their native language, and the message of encouragement in the face of tyrannical power was hidden from the king. She spoke of the wonder of human birth and the wonder of all creation as two accessible signs of the Creator of heaven and earth. This unnamed mother of seven sons saw them all perish in one day, yet she did not despair because of her hope in the Lord. When the tyrant could not convince his next victim to trust him, he pleaded with his mother to help him come to his senses and not resist the command of the king. This woman pretended to talk her son out of taking any stand against absolute power. However, the mother’s faith enabled her to triumph over her natural instincts to protect her son from sure destruction. In complete confidence that he would rise and be healed in the time of mercy, this young man spoke boldly in a language the king could understand. To his executioner he asked, “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command. I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses. But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.” Not only did he refuse to submit to the king’s authority, he warned the king that he would not be able to escape the authority of the true king. Again, this kind of faith amazes us who live in the light and glory of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. We have such a firm foundation for our faith. Yet, are we so bold in our witness?
The parable in today’s gospel is a severe challenge to our faith. Have we grown in the gifts first received at baptism? As servants of the King of Glory we have been given a share in his kingdom wealth. Indeed, our Lord Jesus has given us treasure upon treasure. Have we taken any risks? Have we even invested ourselves in the coming of the Kingdom? Notice that the only excuse that the wicked servant has for his king is that he was afraid. He knew that his master was a demanding person, and he was afraid that just investing the money in a bank would not be enough for such a demanding lord. It is often that simple. We are paralyzed by fear. Yet, the King of Glory comes in all humility. Any demands that the Lord makes on us are made in the context of his self-giving. Anything he demands of us, he has already demanded of himself. We have nothing to fear. The Lord Jesus, born of a woman, laid in a manger, baptized in the Jordan, rejected by the elders, blasphemed, as the servant of the evil one, is the most humble and gracious Master. Even his demands are not fearful, only because he is so gracious and merciful, the friend of sinners. He hides us in the shadow of his wings and we are safe.