“So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.
Therefore, you too must stand ready because the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Waiting is one of those things that can be very exacting on us. It can test the quality of our patience and hope. Waiting manifests our powerlessness to bring about what we are hoping for, and invites us to trust in the only one who can make it happen. All we can do is incubate the future.
Today our scripture readings tell us about incubating the future with a sense of joyful hope. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading Is. 2:1-5, tells us of a time to come when: “The mountain of the temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All the nations will stream to it, peoples without number will come to it; and they will say; ‘come, let us go up to the mountain of the lord, to the temple of the God of Jacobthat he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the law will go out from Zion, and the Oracle of the lord from Jerusalem.’
This time will usher in a new dispensation in which power and authority will be exercised as it should be; in peace and justice. When that time comes, the Lord will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into plough shares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift up sword against nation; there will be no more training for war.He will heal all our fears, insecurities and wrong thinking that lead us to conflict and war.
This will happen when the land is full of the knowledge of the lord. And men and women come together to walk in the light of the lord.
Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman in the gospel of John 4:21-24 that, ‘the hour is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem….But the hour is coming…. when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth. This time and hour is inaugurated by the coming of the promised messiah.
Perhaps the mountain of the lord is not restricted to a particular place and time. May be it is a state of being that can be found deep in the core of every person, where he alone (God) knows how to touch us and speak to us beyond words and religious rituals. A place deep within us where we find meaning for the essence of our being. A place where we find a common ground for our humanity. This is the place where differences of colour, race, religion, politics and economic status is dissolved under the glorious light of God’s mercy and love.
It is for this glorious future of salvation that St Paul in the second reading from his letter to the Romans 13:11-14, tells us: ‘you know the time has come you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let’s us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of darkness; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime.’
The way to stay awake and prepare for the future is to live the present moment well. This is what Jesus is drawing our attention to in the gospel according to Matthew 24: 37-44. “So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.” To illustrate his point Jesus refers us to the day of Noah. In Noah’s day, everyone was busy about the normal routine of life: eating and drinking, making new relationships and holding on to old one. Every body was busy about the usual and paid little or no attention to the ark of their salvation. Noah however, was alert to something others did nothing about – building the ark of salvation.
Jesus encourages us to stay awake because we do not know when the master is coming. We are expected to Waite with vigilance and joyful hope. Our waiting should not be‘doing nothing’. Rather it should be about taking responsibility for the present time as a way of preparing for the future. We are all in a way responsible for the present and future of the world we live in. We are not passive victims of the inevitable future. Let us be sober and participate actively and consciously by acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with our God.
St Paul in the second reading advices us to avoid drunken orgies and wranglings, jealousies, promiscuity and any other thing that will numb our spiritual sensitivity and prevent us from being alert to the present time. Instead we are asked to heed the words of the prophet Isaiah; to go up to the mountain of the lord, that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.Stay awake.