By Lissy M
Panaji, August 13, 2019: On Sunday, August 11, when the Gospel reading during the Mass asked people to be vigilant always, my thoughts went to the flood-stricken areas of our country.
How our people were surprised by the sudden cloudbursts, followed by landslides, that swallowed an entire village in the Wayanad region of Kerala.
It hurts to the core listening to a young man standing over the landslide-levelled land in Kavalappara and responding to the news reporters, “How can I go? My wife and child are here.”
“I want to see them once more,” he added, waiting for the Fire Force to search out for the missing persons. He was one among many who waited for their dear ones buried alive.
“It is better to be always ready. We never know what happens in the next moment,” one of my friends said over the phone reflecting on this tragedy. “And yet we live as though nothing is going to happen. Why are we so?” she asked.
In Lk 12:32-48 Jesus instructs us about being watchful and ready for any event. To expect the unexpected at any moment. When the Master arrives all the servants are expected to be ready, “with loins girded and the lamps burning.”
The master is happy to find the servants ready and available that he is willing to serve them. “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.” (vv37,38)
How good is the Master? And how privileged the servants are.
A houseowner is also expected to be watchful, about housebreaking and robbery.
For those who are not ready their encounter with the Master will be one of surprise, like a thief breaking into the house unexpectedly at night.
St Gregory of Nazianus comments on the phrase, “The day of the Lord will be like a thief in the night.”
He says, “Unknown to the Master, the thief breaks into the house, because while the spirit sleeps instead of guarding itself, death comes unexpectedly, and breaks into the dwelling place of our flesh. But he would resist the thief if he were watching, because being on his guard against the coming of the judge, who secretly seizes the soul, he would by repentance, go to meet him, lest he would perish impenitent. But our Lord wishes the last hour to be unknown to us, in order, as we cannot foresee it, that we may be unceasingly preparing for it.”
All the three readings of Sunday, 11 August, had the theme, “Be ready.” Being ready, looking forward with vigilance, waiting with faith. Abraham, was ready when God called him out of his homeland to brave the travel to the promised land, that he knew nothing about. He held on to the hope that God would be true to his promises. But he was ready. A character unique to everyone prepared to follow God’s will at any moment.
Nothing is more certain than death, nothing more uncertain that its hour,” reminds St. Anselm of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church.
“God has concealed from us the day of our death, that we may spend all our days well,” reminder from St. Alphonsus Liguori, another Doctor of the Church.
“Still less should we try to know when we will die and in what place; whether it will be in the country or in the city; on horseback or at the foot of a mountain; or by some stone crushing us; or whether we will die in bed assisted by someone, or alone. What does it matter? Leave the care of it to divine providence, which looks after even the birds in the sky,” says St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church.