Year C: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 17: 5-10
There are many ways of “doing your duty”. We can do it because we have to - and, often, this leaves us resentful. We can do it because we have been bullied into it - or had wrongful pressure put on us to do it - and this too can leave us feeling resentful and, worse, can damage our sense of our own value.
There is, though a wholesome and life-giving sense of duty - and it is that to which Jesus is referring when He speaks to His disciples in today's Gospel.
Family duty - religious duty - all duties stem from the fact that we need each other. We are “inter-dependent”. We need to know that we can depend on others - and ensure that they can depend on us.
Children have a right to expect that their parents will do their duty by them - feeding and clothing and caring for them.
It is a desperate household where parents fail in their duties towards their children. It is sad too where parents leave children with the feeling that they are doing their children a big favour by bringing them into the world and looking after them.
A secure loving home ensures that children know that they can rely on their parents and in that confidence, grow into loving and secure people too
On the other hand, children generally need encouragement - or cajoling - or sheer parental pressure to learn that they too have duties - that others need to know that they can rely on them. This can be a hard slog! However, as they mature, the examples they have been given - of adults getting on with their responsibilities and duties - begin to bear fruit. They accept that they do have a part to play - that people depend on them and so they get on with the business of being dependable.
Gradually, such children mature into people who know that what they do is necessary and that people can depend on them to do it. They rightly feel a healthy pride in that. They know they have worth. They also trust others to do their duty and, through this dependence on others, see their worth too.
Like the servants in Jesus’ story - they no longer need constant reassurance or gratitude in order to get on with the task in hand.
They know that they can look anyone in the eye and say “I’m only doing my duty” - and feel good about saying it.
What does it mean for me?
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