1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
"Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."
Take a moment to reflect on the countless ways you prepared for the unexpected today. We certainly lock our doors at night before going to sleep. You may also set a house alarm just in case the locks fail and someone makes their way inside. We spend thousands of dollars on home, car and possibly even life insurance. We click on our seatbelts before we start the car. Moms pack their diaper bags with bottles and baby wipes, band-aids and extra clothes. We always check with the weather forecast before grabbing sweaters, umbrellas or sunscreen. These days we don’t dare leave the house without our cell phones just in case of emergency. And especially as of late, we monitor our bank statements and listen to the endless expert advice on how to save for college, protect our investments and shelter our retirement funds. Pretty impressive.
Yet I wonder, what have we done to ready our souls? In today’s Gospel, Matthew tells us that we "must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Like a "thief" in the night, he will come. And will we be ready? I am fairly sure that a safe investment portfolio and a state-of-the-art car alarm will not suffice. Christ didn’t sugar-coat his message here. He is coming. We don’t know when. So we better be ready at all times. Just like a thief doesn’t give notice or warning, neither does the Son of Man. And the consequences of being ill-prepared are devastating. When a bugler comes to an unarmed home, he takes everything of value he can get his hands on. When Christ comes, the wicked servant who took advantage of Christ’s delay "will be punish[ed] severely."
As Christians, we are challenged to live the ordinary days of our lives all the while knowing that there is a much larger, more extraordinary possibility in every day-Jesus’ return. And for those who "stay awake" and serve God in their lives, he promises eternal rewards. For the faithful servant, our Lord "will put him in charge of all his property." What strikes me is the example of the good servant in Christ’s parable. What makes this person worthy in life is that while the master is away, he serves the household meals at the appointed time; ‘Blessed is the servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so." In other words, he hasn’t slept with one eye open every night. He hasn’t berated his fellow community members for their failings. He hasn’t suspended his responsibilities to home and family for constant prayer and penances. He has simply served dinner "at the proper time."
Can it possibly be this easy? Well, yes and no. I think the message is that we don’t have to preach God’s word from the highest mountain or leave our families for a life of sequestered meditation. But we do have to live the life God gave us with honesty, integrity and faith. This might mean caring compassionately for an aged parent, suspending a lucrative career to raise young children or treating our employees with generosity and understanding. We can find holiness and grace in the regular responsibilities of our everyday lives. In doing that, we can be ready for anything.
Marlo Serritella ([email protected]) is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.