Gospel – Luke 12:35-40
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have the servants recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
“Be Prepared!” This is the motto of the Boy Scouts. It is not only their motto. In a sense it is also the purpose for every activity they embark upon and the goal of the entire program of the organization. The boys, and now the girls as well, are meant to be prepared for any challenge that they might encounter.
‘Be prepared’ might be the theme for the readings for this Sunday. The reading from Wisdom states that the Children of Israel offered sacrifice as they “awaited the salvation of the just.” They had been told ahead of time to prepare themselves for their deliverance by God. They may not have known the details of this wondrous event, but God provided clear directions, and they followed them.
This does not seem to have been the case with regard to Abraham. He was not prepared for what happened to him. He was simply told what to do. He was told to leave his home and go to a strange country; and he went. He was told to move around in that country once he arrived; and he did. He was told that, despite his advanced age, he would father an heir; and he did. He was then told to sacrifice this same child, the one through whom the blood line would continue and God’s promises would be fulfilled, and he did, until he was prevented from completing the act by divine intervention. Abraham was not prepared for any of these events, yet in faith he obeyed God’s word.
The servants in the gospel story were also told to ‘be prepared.’ The master is coming home, but they do not know when, so they will have to ‘be prepared’ at any time, day or night. Added to this story is the element of responsibility. They must be prepared to welcome him and to serve him whenever he arrives. This might be their major concern, but they also have responsibilities to perform while he is away. The master had “put them in charge of his servants…and of all his property.” The manner in which they discharge these responsibilities served as preparation for the master’s return.
These readings challenge everything about the way we live our lives. God comes into our lives in unexpected ways – in the manner in which we treat those with whom we live and work, in the honesty and care with which we interact with strangers, in the way we treat those for who we might be responsible. God comes into our lives in the joys we experience – in the gentle touches and tender words of those who love us, in the innocent smiles of children, in the grateful eyes of the elders. God comes into our lives in the misfortune we are called to endure – in the death of a loved one that leaves us bereft, in the terrifying diagnoses that we carry in our bodies, in the loss of employment that undermines our sense of worth. Are we prepared for God’s unexpected arrival?
We should not be overly frightened by this, for the God who comes into our lives is a loving and merciful God. Still, we are responsible and will be called accountable. The only way to wait is to “Be Prepared!”
Dianne Bergant, CSA
Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP Distinguished Professor Emerita of Old Testament Studies
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.