Bottom line: Be prepared. Do not be lulled into thinking there is no hurry. The time of reckoning will come when you least expect it.
This Sunday Jesus speaks about vigilance: Be prepared. The time of reckoning will come when you least expect it. Every moment our salvation - our eternal destiny - hangs in the balance.
Our enemy - the devil - knows this very well. He wants to lull us into a sense of false security.* The story is told about a demon assigned to tempt a young man. It was his first assignment so the "junior devil" discussed his strategy with a senior devil. "I know how to bring this young man down," he said, "I will convince him there is no God."
The senior devil said, "That's fine for intellectuals, but it will not work for this young man. All he has to do is look at the night sky and he will realize that God exists."
The junior tempter said, "Well, then I will convince him there is no devil."
The senior tempter said, "That approach has more promise, but if he looks around his neighborhood, he will will realize the devil exists."
Then the senior tempter said, "Here’s the best plan. Don’t try to convince him that there is no God or that there is no devil. Just tell him there is no hurry.”
It is amazing how well this stategy works. Every day we see people die, some very suddenly - in accidents or by a stroke or heart attack. It happens to the young as well as the old. Yet we somehow think it will not happen to you or me. The tempter keeps saying to us, "Don't worry. You won't die. There is no hurry."
This strategy works particulary well in our society today. A large percentage believe (at least, vaguely) that God exists. The majority also believe that the devil - and therefore, hell - exists. What they don't believe in is their own death. Shakespeare said, "What fools these mortals be!" We act like we will live forever - or at least that our own death lies way in the future. No hurry.
Jesus says just the opposite in today's Gospel. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Your death, your hour of judgment will come like a thief in the night. A number of years back, a burglar broke into the rectory where I lived. He didn't send a note. He didn't call saying, "Father Bloom, I'll be robbing your rectory tonight." No, he showed up at most unexpected moment. Jesus tells us that he will come at the moment we least expect. Be prepared. Be vigilant.
Once a mom and dad had to leave on an urgent family matter. They put the oldest child in charge. At first the children took advantage - they watched some television programs they shouldn't have, got junk food down from the top shelf and started poking around in their parents' bedroom. Pretty soon they were fighting each other and the house was a mess. A younger child asked, "What would happen if mom and dad came in right now?" The fight stopped and the children started getting the house in order.
God wants us to do something like that. Jesus return is near. This could be your last day or mine. President Jimmy Carter said that he wanted to live each day in the White House as if Jesus were returning that afternoon. Whether he did that only God can judge - as he will judge you and me. This is a serious matter - really the only thing that finally matters: where will you and I spend eternity? Be prepared. Be vigilant. Do not be lulled into thinking there is no hurry. Jesus will show up like a burglar. The time of reckoning will come when you least expect it.
*Part of the problem is that we have a confused sense of good and evil. In Sofie's Choice William Styron wrote regarding Rodolf Hoss' Confessions - KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS: "(It) should be required reading...along with Catcher in the Rye, The Hobbitt...For within these confessions it will be discovered that we really have no acquaintance with true evil; the evil portrayed in most novels and plays and movies is mediocre if not spurious; a shoddy concoction generally made up of violence, fantasy, neurotic terror and melodrama. This 'imaginary evil' - again to quote Simone Weil - 'is romantic and varied, while real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.'"
From Archives (19th Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
St. Mary of the Valley Album
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish