Jesus said to his disciples: ‘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. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
Luke’s Gospel account clearly reflects the parousia (second coming of Jesus) that had been anticipated during the first century AD. It was felt that the Second Coming was imminent and so the four evangelists wanted their communities to be ready in anticipation.
Just as the Hebrew people were forewarned to be ready for their flight from Egypt (Exodus 12:11) Jesus asks his own disciples to be prepared for his return. ‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.’ Luke not only connects Jesus’ conversation with his disciples to the great Exodus event but also to those who waited patiently and faithfully for the coming of the Messiah and the ultimate fulfilment of the Covenant. Just as these people, like Abraham and Sarah, placed their trust in God, so must we. If we are trusting, and at the ready, then we know that God’s reward will be in abundance.
What should we do then if “the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect?”
To be ready for the Son of Man requires us to live as he would like us. It is reputed that St Augustine had once said “Oh, Lord make me Holy, but not yet.” To be at the ready, we must not defer our Christian obligations to a later date but rather accept them as a way of life and embrace holiness as a way of life. We must be servants waiting at the door for our master’s return.
The great prophet Micah reveals to us what the master asks of us so that we might be ready; “Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.”