Tuesday, October 23, 2007

With Lamps Burning

We are approaching the end of the ecclesiastical year that will conclude on the Solemnity of Christ the King. The readings for the day and for Sundays turn to the end times and the second (and final) coming of Christ. Today's reading is from Luke 12:35-38: See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes, I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.
The picture of the wise and foolish virgins above is all that I could find. The parable is similar to the message of today's gospel, but not quite apt.
To be dressed for action is like a warrior wearing his military kit. As St. Paul tells us in another place: Put on the armor of light. A soldier who is not ready for battle is useless, and ultimately, dead. In Jesus' day there was no real public lighting, and mostly only thugs and the rich who could afford torch carrying body guards would be out at night. The servants at home had to be ready to immediately open the gate when the Master returned. Failure to open promptly would result in severe punishment. Here, however in contrast to the reading a few Sundays ago, the Master then serves the servants in reward for their readiness. It doesn't matter whether he comes in the 2nd watch (between 9 and 12) or the 3rd watch (between 12 and 3), those servants will be blessed.
As we prepare for Advent, Holy Mother Church again reminds us to stay awake. We must be ready for Christ whenever he calls upon us. Blessed is that servant who follows the Lord's admonition!