Packing for vacation is torture for me. As I begin to put things out on the bed to pack, I begin to imagine things that I “might” need. This false imagination ends with me bringing a sweatshirt to Florida in August in case it gets chilly some night – when is the last time that happened! But it might, in which case I will be the lone vacationer ready for the freak Florida summer cold spell! It is tough to get ready when we aren’t exactly sure for what we are getting ready. I can imagine a similar reality for those preparing to go off to college for the first time in the coming weeks. Get ready – for what?
This Sunday’s Gospel from Luke has Jesus telling the story of servants who were ready for when their master would return home and being equally vigilant in case the house was to be robbed. In both of these situations, it is clear what will happen if they are not ready: the master will not be pleased or the house will be robbed. Given both of these negative consequences, it is clear that preparation for the master’s coming and vigilance against thieves is desirable. However, the metaphor for the kind of preparation that we should have for the (second) coming of Jesus and staying vigilant against evil ways gets a bit lost on the post-modern person. How can there be a desire to get ready for Jesus’ coming when we really don’t know Jesus? How can we be prepared to ward off the evil that might approach when evil has become such a relative term? And so we find our modern culture asking us the fair question: Get ready for what?
I know too many good people who have been able to work around the inherent fear in this story by telling themselves they have nothing to fear. They live good lives and do good things. Jesus’ call to vigilance is as worthwhile as bringing a sweatshirt to Florida in August – its superfluous. But the vigilance that Jesus is really inviting us to in this story is greater richness. The waiting servants are invited to the banquet – an unheard of blessing! It is not fear of what we will lose, but rather fear of the good we will miss!
The post-modern world doesn’t see itself as missing anything simply because there are far too few credible examples of the vigilant followers of Jesus who have had an experience of the life changing and incredible banquet. We go to Church and we come home, and life goes on as usual. We got ready – for what? Let a growing relationship with Christ that finds joy in the Eucharist each week be a lived sign for others to see. May they begin to appreciate what they are missing because they see that we know for what we are ready!
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