Bishop Glen John Provost

Bishop of Lake Charles

St. Henry Catholic Church
Lake Charles, Louisiana

August 7, 2016
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  Luke 12:34

To be prepared—that is the message of the Gospel today.   It is a not neutral message, however.    It takes on the tone of warning.   “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48).   For the servant who was prepared for the master’s return, good enough.  But for the servant who wasted his time and got drunk, abused his fellow servants and his master’s trust—this servant “shall be beaten severely” (Luke 12:47).    I ask you, dear friends, what have we done with the master’s trust?

The world is plagued today with violence, hatred, terrorism, and infidelity.   The society appears to have forgotten God, locked Him up in some closet, thrown away the key, and walked away.   So much loss of innocent life at the hands of insane terrorists and anarchical zealots is met by the West with more laws and calls for greater security.   Certainly we must address the immediate needs but ineffective responses confronting serious challenges and the multiplication of words and protests for peaceful coexistence seem to accomplish nothing.  

Indeed it appears that society has chosen the part of the servant who abuses the master’s trust, neglecting his will and regaining sobriety only when confronted by the return of the master.  Society parades a facsimile of faith when some disaster strikes but soon forgets God and resumes its self-indulgence as soon as a passing calm returns.    When we should be on our knees begging forgiveness, we are playing with the latest gadget, missing Mass for a sporting event, exchanging an idol for the God who made us. 
St. Peter asked, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” (Luke 12:41).    What do you think?   Our Lord answers, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?” (Luke 12:42).   Who indeed?   Am I that “faithful and prudent steward”?   Are you?    The parable is intended for all of us.

Much has been given to us—two thousand years of preaching the Gospel, sacraments given to the Church by our Lord Himself, precious teachings that our ancestors would have thought themselves shamed to forget, a sacred tradition that would be the envy of any world religion.   And what do we do with it?     I once had a seminary professor who, when frustrated at the indifference of the class to the subject matter, would quote a poem saying, “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen/ And waste its sweetness on the desert air” (Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Thomas Gray).  

At no time, but especially at this time, we cannot allow the warning of Jesus to be wasted on the desert air.   The Father has been “pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).    This is the promise of Jesus in the Gospel.    We are the custodians of the treasure.   We can do little to influence the currents of world events.   But we can alter our lives, wake up, be sober, and live like responsible stewards.   That is the Gospel message.   We neglect it at our own peril.    We live it to our great benefit.