Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.’
For some in our society the instruction to be dressed for action is a daily reality. For those who serve in our emergency services, there is a constant need to be ready for action. Those dedicated men and women are called to live in a way that ensures their constant readiness to respond to the needs of others. Any moment where they fail to be ready could cost someone their life. This is an enormous responsibility to lay upon anyone’s shoulders, and we should be thankful that there are those who take on that mantle willingly.
Today Jesus is speaking of a similar call to readiness. Jesus is still speaking of matters of life and death, although he is inviting us to reflect upon our eternal lives and our readiness to be called into God’s nearer presence.
As in other passages in scripture, the coming of the time of judgement is compared to a wedding banquet. We invest a great deal of time and effort in preparing for our worldly wedding celebrations. Jesus is reminding us that our preparations for the time of judgement before God should be no less rigorous. Jesus is reminding us that our ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to such serious matters could lead us down a path that will deny us the joyous eternal life we long for.
It is important that we heed these words. The early Church held themselves in readiness for Christ’s second coming as though it would happen within their lifetimes. This, of course, was not the case and, two thousand years later, it still has not occurred. Because we forget that time is very different for God, we have become complacent and careless. We have ceased to perceive the urgency of the need to be dressed for action at all times. We have invested much of our energy in the way we live our lives in this world, rather than focusing our hope on the joy of living in God’s nearer presence, for ever.
Let us pray that we might always keep ourselves in readiness for the moment when we are called before God as our judge. Let us pray that we might be diligent as we read scripture, pray and worship God in our daily lives. Let us pray that we might take seriously Christ’s call to be dressed for action and ready to help those who are struggling along the same path.