|“The Unfruitful Fig Tree and the Servants Duty” by Nelly Bube.|
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
7 “Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Cited in the Catechism: In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.” He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.
17:7–10. Jesus is not approving this master’s abusive and arbitrary behaviour. He is using an example very familiar to his audience to show the attitude a person should have towards his Creator: everything, from our very existence to the eternal happiness promised us, is one huge gift from God. Man is always in debt to God; no matter what service he renders him he can never adequately repay the gifts God has given him. There is no sense in a creature adopting a proud attitude towards God. What Jesus teaches us here we see being put into practice by our Lady, who replied to God’s messenger, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38).
Finally, he stresses that there is no room for feelings of self-importance (vv. 7–10). Clearly he is not recommending or praising the landowner’s behaviour. But he is saying that the virtue shown in keeping God’s commandments will win us the admiration of others and bring us inner consolation, and that when that happens, we should not think we are special but should instead remind ourselves that we are only doing what God requires: “Do not boast unworthily of the fact that you are a son of God: remember the power of grace, and your own poor nature. Do not glory in your service to the Lord: it is no more than your duty. The sun shines, and the moon, and the angels do their duty. […] We should not praise ourselves, nor tempt God’s judgment […]. God’s judgment will come in his good time” (St Ambrose, Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, ad loc.).
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome