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Luke 12:35-38

The Word of God

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."

Luke 12:35-38
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • In busy lives, waiting can be experienced as a waste of time, a delaying of what is desired. However, waiting can be formative as it was for the chosen people entering the promised Land. It can serve to prepare, to foster alertness, to be ready when the master returns. We pray for the patience to wait, for the readiness to be alert to the surprising ways in which the Lord comes to visit us.
    • We are accustomed to hearing of servants waiting on the master, but we know that God is waiting for us to be ready to receive the visitation from on high. There is reversal of the usual situation in reading that the master will wait on and will serve those faithful helpers. Lord, we pray that you will keep us alert and ready to wait for you, to wait on you, knowing that you wait on us as a humble servant.
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    • When we work in the Master’s service, he will feed and sustain us. He never asks more of us than we are capable of doing.
    • There is a condition called acedia. It is a listlessness of the soul which the ancient monks called ‘the noonday devil’ - a demonic force intent on breaking the monk’s spiritual resolve. When life seems overwhelming, and I am paralysed by fear, fatigue and inertia, can I look forward to the end of the day when Jesus brings me to a laden table, sits down beside me and talks with me about what I have been through?
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    • Jesus speaks of his coming as a time of joy and celebration, not of fear and trembling. We only need to be prepared so that when he comes we can open the door to him. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Lord, help me to live with my lamps lit and ready to welcome you when you come into my life.
    • I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. This quite incredible statement was fulfilled at the Last Supper when Jesus, to his friends’ great surprise, put on the apron and started washing their feet. My God is one who serves me, who waits on me at table. I spend some time reflecting on this great truth, and ask for gratitude.
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    • A number of parables including this one from Luke, remind us that the Christian life is, on some level, a matter of conscious choice, of being awake and 'alert'.
    • The theologian Karl Barth has a lovely description of what salvation in Christ means: 'the prisoner has become the watchman'. Yes, the prisoner has been liberated; but he has only been liberated so that he can take his place in the watchtower, waiting for the return of the Messiah so that he can announce it.
    • The master will sit the servants down and wait on them - this is exactly what happens with the banquet laid out for us by the Father. In the story of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32) Jesus tells of a father anxiously waiting for his prodigal son, scanning the horizon for his return. The Father is alert, mindful of his beloved children; we are asked in turn to be mindful of our loving Father.
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    • The context of Luke’s gospel is the awareness of Jesus that his conflict with the Jewish authorities is likely to end in his arrest and death. He is trying to prepare his disciples to be ready for this.
    • Life is a challenging journey and we can never be ready for every event in our lives. The gospel says: “Be dressed for action” and blessed are those who are ready and alert. It takes a deep breath of faith to be ready for any unexpected event which may come upon us. We know that on some level within us we must be always ready for death. It comes as a loving master ready to serve us.
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    • When we are fully involved in anything our attention is complete. At other times we tend to put things off. It’s a great gift to be alert to the fact that we have come from God and we are going back to God. This helps to put our whole life into a proper perspective. Closeness to Jesus is what keeps this awareness alive.
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    • The ordinary attitude of the Christian is to be awake, alert and attentive, sensitive to the prompting of God’s Spirit and aware of God’s action in the world. I take some time of quiet in my prayer so that I may hear the master’s knock. In all the noise that surrounds me where might it be that the Lord is close, ready to be with me more fully?
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    • Is this only about the end time or is Jesus knocking at my door on a daily basis? Am I being challenged to recognise him in the guise of a stranger, a person who is ill or who needs an encouraging word or a gentle touch? Do I treasure these opportunities as an encounter with Christ?
    • Lord, make me vigilant so that I may recognise your face in my encounters today. As C. S. Lewis says, there are no ordinary mortals in this world. Everyone is an extra-ordinary immortal, destined for eternal joy. Let me be reverent to them all.
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    • The role-reversal on the part of the master, who serves those slaves who were awake and alert, says much about God’s gracious bounty and generosity.
    • In discipleship there is no room for complacency or half-heartedness. The commitment required is total and the reward is equally great. The lighted lamps symbolise the alertness required of us. How is my lamp?
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    • How would I like you to find me when you call me, Lord? At peace with you, at peace with my fellows, at peace with myself. Let not the sun go down on my anger.
    • Here we have another picture of Jesus the servant - the master who would serve the slaves. This image turns cultural customs a bit upside down, like Jesus later would wash the feet of the disciples. This is how he visits us - the one who stands at our door and knocks, and then brings the meal for us to eat. The meal of the word of God, of the Eucharist, the gift of God's love. This is his gift in the time of prayer.