Wednesday (October 25): "Be ready to answer - the Lord draws near"

Meditation: What lesson can we draw from Jesus' parable about a thief in the night and the parable about the master of the household who surprises his stewards with an unexpected visit? Both parables confront us with the possibility of losing everything we presently own and treasure and losing our the future inheritance as well. 

The thief in the night
Jesus' story (parable) of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for constant watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy! While no thief would announce his intention in advance, nor the time when he would strike, lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for those who are unprepared to keep their treasure and their lives secure at all times! The intruder strikes when he is least expected!

Guarding the treasure God's has given us
What treasure does the Lord expect us to vigilantly guard in this present life? It is the treasure of the gifts he has won for us - the gift of salvation purchased by his blood on the cross which has ransomed us from slavery to sin, Satan,and death - and the gift of his Holy Spirit who works in and through us to make us a new creation refashioned in the image of God. The Father and the Son through the gift of the Holy Spirit come to make their home with us. But we can ignore their presence, close our ears to their voice, or reject them through pride and unfaithfulness.

Satan comes like a thief in the night to rob us of our faith and to draw us away from God. He works with the world (that society which is opposed to God) and with our flesh (our sinful inclinations) to make us believe that we can find treasure and happiness apart from God and his will for our lives.

And we can deceive ourselves by putting off for tomorrow what must be done today. God offers us grace today to turn away from sin and rebellion. We must not presume that we can wait another day. The day of the Lord - when he returns again at the end of this present world - will come like a thief. We need to be spiritually alert and watchful at all times. The Lord comes to us - each and every day - to draw us to himself and to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.

God rewards those who are faithful and wise
Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (Matthew 24:.45-49). The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise - the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards one servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service dutifully and has done all that the master required of him. 

He punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly. This servant was not only irresponsible - he was frequently absent from work and spent his master's money by partying (eating and drinking) a lot with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence - probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only throws him out of his house (he fires him from his job!). He also throws him into the worst possible place - a prison of no return where there is nothing but torment and misery. Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? He rewards faithfulness with honor, blessing, and promotion, and he punishes unfaithfulness due to laziness and abuse with demotion, dishonor, and imprisonment.

Are you ready to meet the Lord?
The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord's warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

"Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart for you. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.  May I always be watchful and ready to answer when you draw near."

This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/