Nowadays, many homes have security systems. We can have our homes monitored, 24 hours a day, to make sure they are safe. The really advanced systems even allow us to tap into the cameras from our mobile phones. We don’t have to stay awake all night in case someone tries to burgle our home – the system takes care of everything. There are so many technologies available whose focus is to help us be prepared for all eventualities; we have apps for everything from predicting the weather to alerting us to traffic delays.
There are no such luxuries in the parables. The men who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast cannot afford to sleep. They won’t receive an alert to their phone when their master arrives home. They have no option but to wait up. In the short parable of the householder and the burglar, Jesus again emphasizes the importance of ‘standing ready.’
Of course, Jesus is not really talking about watchmen and burglars, or being physically prepared; he is talking, rather, about spiritual alertness. It might seem morbid, but let us ask ourselves this: if I were to die tonight, would I be ready? Our answer might tell you something about the areas of our life that need work. Another way in which we can be ‘ever-ready’ is to be open to the Holy Spirit. When our hearts are alert and open, we are more likely to see God’s goodness in those we meet, and be ready to welcome his grace into our lives.
We could not imagine being without our gadgets and apps and all of the things that make our lives easier. Valuable though they are, there is something more valuable – indeed priceless – at stake.
The opening verses of this gospel reading invite us to ask ourselves what we see as our purpose in life. What are our priorities? Is our heart set on material progress and advance, or do we have other priorities? What has helped us to appreciate that there is more to our lives than earthly possessions and success?
At times one can sense in Jesus an urgency, as if he wanted to shake people and wake them up to take his words seriously. The parable has that tone: ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.’ When have we found that being alert enabled us to grasp a moment of opportunity that we might easily have missed? Perhaps when a child or friend gave a hint that they would like to talk, and a very meaningful conversation ensued?
Another consideration that adds to the sense of urgency in the words of Jesus is that we only have one life, and we do not know how long it will last. So, Jesus calls us on us to live in the now and to treasure our time. Sometimes we drift aimlessly through a day, and on other occasions use a day purposefully. What difference does that make, if any, to how we experience the day?