April 25, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news from Mark 13:32-37.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or a cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”
This can be understood in several different ways. What strikes me today is that the day and hour of my death is known only by God and that I should not be taken by surprise. My whole life is on a trajectory toward meeting my God in eternity. As Barclay writes, “All life becomes a preparation to meet the King.” How will He greet me? As His faithful servant or as His lost sheep? As Lazarus who wouldn’t even share the crumbs of his table or Lazarus who loved Jesus and was raised from the dead into new life?
The choice is mine and made in the small decisions of each day. Will I respond to someone who has offended me by dwelling on ways I can get back at her, get even? Or will I overlook it as unintended and unremembered? Will I look away as I pass a beggar on the street or look him in the eye, smile, exchange a greeting, and perhaps drop a bill? Small things but measures of Jesus’ command to love one another, to bring about the kingdom of God.
How will God measure my life? I don’t think He will dwell on my sins, my weaknesses, and my faults. He created me as a less-than-perfect son and He forgives me as I seek forgiveness. Jesus showed us that he didn’t focus on sin; he didn’t shun people for their humanness failings. On the contrary he always showed understanding and compassion, striving to show them God’s unwavering, constant love.
I think He will judge me by how I have accepted His love and in turn shared it with others. I trust He will not find me sleeping — removed from the world around me by indifference, unawakened by the injustice and suffering that abounds, unmoved to arise and do something about it. He created me for a purpose, to use me in helping fulfill His plan for the world. I don’t want Him to catch me sleeping on the job!
This exhortation to be God’s agent in the world and to keep watch for His coming is put well by Shea in Eating with the Bridegroom, “In this context working is really co-working. The Lord is active and at work in the world bringing about a new humanity. God lures people into the same activity, making them servants of divine activity. But in order for them to join the Lord’s activity, they must be awake to what God is doing….The Word of God that was embodied in Jesus is novel in each situation. Only those who both work and watch can hear this Word….Can Christians live engaged in God’s work and ever open to the arrival of the new? This strange combination, immersed in the present and on the edge of the future, is the way of discipleship.”
He has given me my work to do and warned me to be alert to His return. Fair warning.