Sunday 02 October 2016

Bible Book:

“Increase our faith” (v. 5)

Luke 17:5-10 Sunday 2 October 2016

Psalm: Psalm 37:1-19


The Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Jesus,instead of referring back to the Scriptures which would be familiarto them, or giving them a straight answer explaining to them howthey can receive more faith, reminds them in a very human way ofthe life of a servant. Speaking of the environment where they wereliving he tells how the servant or the slave comes in from thefield, and still has to complete their day's work in the householdbefore they can rest and yet does not expect to receive any rewardother than the remuneration they get, probably bed and board, forall their hard work. The performance of their duties does notentitle them to a reward, so it will be for the disciples - whenthey have done all the tasks which God has put before them, theironly reward will be that they will have done God's will.

As in much of this part of Luke's Gospel the words can be seenas having something of a hidden agenda. As well as telling thedisciples how it is, it is also something of an attack on theJewish attitude especially that of the Pharisees. Their theologicalposition is that if a person performs good works in the name of Godit will constitute a claim upon God for due reward. Jesus turnsthis on its head and is reminds the disciples that human beingscannot put God in their debt. This does not mean however that Goddoes not reward faithful people, for example Jesus says that thosewho are dressed and ready for action when the master comes will beblessed (Luke 12:35-38). It is the attitude that iswrong, where the person concerns looks for reward for theiractions. The disciples have been travelling with Jesus for sometime and have been reminded of their calling to follow him. Thetime is coming, although they do not know it, when they will beexpected to continue his work without him. The reminder of theirservanthood encourages them to continue the work out of loyalty tohim without expecting any reward other than knowing they had beendutiful in the task.

The prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola spells it:

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve;
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.

To Ponder

  • When we are called to follow Jesus where are we to follow himto? The church? The world? Or both?
  • Are we ever guilty of seeking reward for the work we have doneeither in the church or in charitable or mission activity outsideof the church?
  • Do we ever seek to serve in the way we are called upon to do inour own strength without the help of the Holy Spirit?
  • Pray the prayer of St Ignatius today.
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