Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
‘Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”, and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
How often do you experience feelings of regret? Those feelings which are often accompanied by the vivid recall of some embarrassing moment in your past, sometimes your distant past. Your regrets may be associated with memories of cruel words or actions inflicted upon you … or by you! They may have involved instances of betrayal and disloyalty or, perhaps, moments when your wisdom or integrity proved to be lacking. Surely there can be very few people in the world who can say that they are living with no regrets. Such people must be very special, very fortunate, or very hard-hearted and insensitive.
Today’s reading warns us that we should: Keep awake … for you do not known on what day your Lord is coming. And, if we do not keep awake and pay attention to the lessons of our past we will ultimately be condemned to weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Of course, it is not healthy or productive for us to be obsessed with our past, although we do need to learn the lessons it has to offer. The world in which we live is dynamic and ever-changing. If we fail to engage with society at large, we run the danger of becoming critical and judgemental to such a degree that we become increasingly distanced from our call to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all.
Human beings do not have the ability to see into the future. Just as we cannot predict the mundane ups and downs of daily life, so we cannot predict the moment when we will be called to account for the lives we have led … before God himself.
God offers those who are faithful the ultimate reward of eternal life; those who hear the word and fail to follow its teachings and precepts will be cast out to the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for that same eternity.
Let us pray that we might learn the lessons of our flawed lives. Let us pray that we might not become obsessed with the past but use our experiences, and mistakes, to inform a faithful future. Let us pray that we might, in God’s good time, come to know his forgiveness and the joy of eternal life in his nearer presence.