Homily - 27th Sunday OT Year C - What's Next Lord?

Homily (Sermon) - What's Next Lord?

The Readings for the twenty seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Psalm 94
Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

We have become exceptional good at hiding the servants in today modern cultures. Few of us today have servants working in our fields or waiting on us at table. The analogy used by Christ, of a master expecting his servant to serve, is a little lost and strange. As I read it I felt I would be quite happy to let my servants eat first if they had had a hard day in the fields ploughing or sheep herding.

Then I started to ponder my life and my servants. I have gas, electric and water on tap. I have machines and tools. I can buy prepared food. I don’t need to sow to put clothes on my back. My servants are scattered all over the world.  I do expect my car, my fridge, my oven, my television, my computer all too just work. I expect them to be made well. I expect the people providing the power to run them, just to do their job. I don’t thank them; I just expect them to work.

That is what God expects of us. We are expected to do what we are asked. Not for thanks or praise, just because we are asked.

That is the rather cold message of the second half of our gospel, you are expected to work. You are expected to serve. You are expected to do your duty. You are a useless servant expected to do your duty.

Take a few seconds now to ask yourself a few tough questions. Are you looking for thanks? Are you looking for praise? Are you looking for ways to avoid doing your duty? Have you already found ways to avoid work, avoid service, avoid doing your duty to God? Do you have good excuses that make you feel better about doing less? Do you feel hard done by because you don’t get the recognition you think you deserve?

I fall short on all of those questions. I love the nice things you tell me when I preach, I sometimes feel hard done by when no one says, “I enjoyed your homily”. I work hard as a deacon, but I also steal time back for myself. Before writing this homily I spent time reading and playing games. It’s human, but we are asked to be better, we are asked to serve and serve humbly.

But the lesson isn't quite as cold as it seems right now. We have been promised an eternal life; we have been called sisters and brothers by the son of God. We have been given the gift of Grace, the gift of eternal life, the gift of forgiveness. Christ isn't bargaining with us. He has told you to serve, He has told you, that you are family and loved. They are not linked. You can’t earn his love, you already have it. If you know this, if you feel this, your mustard seed sized faith will enable you to do great things. You will do them because of love not to earn love.

Today’s tough lesson is about humility. It’s about doing what you are called to do? It’s about doing it well. It’s about finishing it and asking what’s next. So let me try and put today’s gospel into context with a short story from a couple of years ago.

My wife Gail and I were renovating a house just down the road from us, for my mum-in-law, Hazel. Actually, when I say Gail and I, I really mean Gail, as she did most of the work and organising. However, at the weekends we were both round there working, but being a man I am not capable, of looking round and seeing what the next task is, so I have taken the safe route and each time I complete a task, I go and find Gail and ask, "What's next love?".

So my weekends ran something like this; I paint a door, "What's next love?”, I paint a ceiling, "What's next love?", I wallpaper the bedroom, "What's next love?". When Hazel moved in, Gail took great delight in telling the story to her mum, apparently every 5 minutes I would pop up saying "Next?"

Even when I am not spending my weekends decorating a house, my life can feel pretty busy most of the time, and I am sure yours do too. We run around trying to manage all the calls on our time, family, work, school and God’s. Sometimes we just feel crushed by the weight of all the things we need to do, but this does not stack up well against Paul’s message to Timothy, “You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the holy Spirit” So I have to wonder what I am doing wrong.

Then I remembered the decorating. God like Gail has a plan, who am I, to randomly select the things I think need doing. Shouldn't I be trying to work with Christ, rather than by myself? If I work with Him, He'll share the burden. Maybe it's time to go back to God and ask "What's next Lord?"

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