Fr. Gerard D’ Souza, OCSO
29th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
It is dark, it is near midnight, the servants are tired but they cannot sleep, they have to await their Master’s return. This is the picture of the Christian life that Jesus puts before us. It is a life of waiting. Which means it is not a comfortable life. We forget thisIt is a life that strains forward and refuses to settle down in the world that passing away. How do we wait for this absent Master?
Jesus says ‘Gird up your loins and light your lamps and be like servants that await their Master’s return’
Gird your loins. The Lord is using a figure very familiar to His listeners. Middle Eastern robes are long and flowing and if one has to work in them, they have to be gathered in so that the person does not trip on them. Similarly, if we are to be ready for Jesus, our minds cannot be scattered, our thoughts cannot be focused on the countless affairs of the world. Our minds have to be gathered in. But to gather something in, means we have to detach it from something else. The disciple has to detach himself from his former loves to turn to the Lord.
When we serve the Lord with concentration and detachment, we acquire a Christian character. Our lives become burning lamps. We do not say a word but our lives speak of the beauty of following Christ. They light the fire of hope in others. When we become people of experience, others know it. But if our service is half-hearted, our lives are like sooty lamps, a dimness steals over our character and we become counter signs to the presence of Christ in us. Our words will be empty and devoid of the Spirit.
Finally we must have waiting and expectant hearts – be like servants that await their Master’s return. Expectant hearts have but one thought – the One they are waiting for and hoping for. Without expectant hearts we will never be focused or detached. Prayer gives us waiting hearts for prayer tastes now what is yet to come. And this taste and the joy it brings helps us to deal with the other pole of Christian existence – the Cross and detachment. Today most of us never even consider Christ’s glorious return and as a result, we run from the Cross. But these two poles – Glory and the Cross have been burned into the very fabric of the universe. We only ignore them or escape them at our peril.
Finally for faithful servants, the tables are reversed. Imagine the promise of the Lord. He will becomes the servant. He will sit His faithful servants down at table and wait on them. Their every wish He will fulfill in a degree that is beyond the scope of the human imagination. For a short while we have to gird the loins of our mind and work but then an eternity of joy awaits us. St Paul reminds us of this ‘What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.’