August 26, 2021
I delivered the following homily at a high school Mass in 2017, based on the same readings we have today: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 and Matthew 24:42-51
When we were kids, my parents were occasionally brave enough to leave us home without a babysitter. As they were heading out for the evening, they would share their expectations of us and tell us what time they were going to be home.
We would wait until the car pulled out of the driveway. Once it was clear they were gone, chaos ensued.
We jumped on the couch, climbed on the counter and pulled out all of the snacks Mom had hidden in the top cabinets, played tackle football in the house, chased each other, and built forts out of furniture. All rules went out the window.
Then, about fifteen minutes before our parents were scheduled to return, the oldest sibling would announce that it was time to put the house in order. We ran around, put cushions back on couches, took the football to the garage, returned furniture to its rightful place, and swept up the crumbs from the forbidden snacks. We would take one last look around, and would be sitting angelically on the couch watching TV when our parents returned home. We knew when they were coming home, so we anticipated and prepared for their arrival.
However, inevitably the day came when our parents returned home unexpectedly. Their plans had fallen through and they came home early to find us in mid-chaos. Let’s just say there were consequences for our actions.
Jesus gave His disciples the advice: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” You don’t ask when to be prepared, you should always be prepared.
It is commonly held that Jesus was talking about death – “You never know when it may be your time to die, so be prepared.” I don’t disagree with that interpretation. However, I believe, in light of Paul’s words, there is more to it. I think we are being instructed to be ready for whatever God has in mind for us.
Paul encourages us to bolster our faith (remedy the deficiencies), continue to make it stronger so that we are prepared for whatever it is that God asks of us:
- Maybe He is going to throw something unexpected at us, something we will not fully understand. We will need a strong faith to weather the uncertainty.
- Maybe He will place someone in our lives who needs help. A strong faith will help us recognize the need and respond appropriately.
- Maybe He will need us to be the voice for the voiceless. It will likely take courage and take us out of our comfort zone, but a strong faith will strengthen our resolve to do His work.
- Maybe He will need us to spread the Good News in both word and deed. This work will require us to have the well-developed faith of a true disciple.
I have said, “Maybe” to each of these scenarios, but the fact is, each of them will happen. There is no “maybe” or “if” – the day will come.
That is why we must “remedy the deficiencies in our faith,” and why we must “stay awake” – we don’t know when that day will come.