Are we aware of our duty to bear fruit of eternal life?

Homily preached by Fr. Sébastien PERDRIX, o.p., of the Province of Toulouse, November 21, 2007, on Lk 19, 11-28

"While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately."

According to the preamble of saint Luke, today's parable responds to people's expectation about the kingdom of God. But first of all, why does the crowd think that the kingdom of God is at hand? Is that only a mere fantasy or do the people have good reasons to think so? As a matter of fact, they have legetimate reasons to expect the prompt coming of the kingdom. Firstly, Jesus has been speaking at length about the kindgom. Secondly, the disciples and the crowd have seen Jesus purposefully traveling toward Jerusalem. Then, how could they have not recognized in this journey the coming of the Messiah and of his kingdom? As today's gospel stresses: "... he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately." Indeed, the very presence of the Messiah in the holy city of Jerusalem is a prophetical sign that the Kingdom is at hand. With respect to this point, they are right, but Jesus knowing that they have a purely human understanding of the Kingdom of God, therefore teaches them in parable the way the kingdom is coming.

Today's parable of the nobleman going off to a distant country to obtain the kingship and the raising of the money entrusted to his servants could be read on tree levels. In the first level, the parable is an image and an explanation of the events which will take place in Jerusalem on Calvary. The nobleman, going off to a distant country to obtain his kingship among his fellow citizens among whom some are not quite willing to have him as a king, is Christ, the just. The distant country is our human world marked by sin and death; it could be also death itself and hell that Christ has to triumph over. The fellow citizens are men, sinners, living and deceased in need of salvation and among them there are some who reject the kingship of Christ: the kings of the earth, the wicked, the Evil one or as they are called by Christ, his enemies. This story of the conquest of Jesus' kingdom shows us that the incarnation and the cross are a difficult enterprise, because the world is not quite willing to welcome a savior. The pascal mystery is thus the story of a violent takeover, which will lead to Christ' death, descent among the dead and finally his resurrection and glorious triumph.

In the second level, this parable is an image of the second coming of Christ at the end of time when he will come definitively to destroy evil and death and to judge the living and the dead according to the way they have lived and loved. And this divine judge, in a way, could afraid those who have a false view of God. "I am afraid of you, because you are a demanding man." Certainly, Jesus is demanding: "take up your cross if you will my disciples be...", but what he asked for is not beyond our reach with the help of grace. Only those who refuse to welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit see Jesus as a demanding and unmerciful juge. Is it really so difficult to put Jesus' money – his grace – in a bank? No, if it is the bank of the Holy Spirit...

Finally, we could apply the parable to a third level, our own existence. And therefore, it is about our own desire to receive Christ as our King and our Lord and about our use of God's gift. Are we willing to embrace the Cross of Jesus as the sign of his kingship over us and to be converted or are we still remaining in our sinful way of life? Are we always aware of our duty to bear fruit of eternal life?

"After he said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem."