Early in my corporate career I worked as a recruiter for a large data processing company. I spent a great deal of my time on the phone each day. When the office manager asked for a volunteer to cover the switchboard while they took the receptionist for lunch on her birthday, I naively raised my hand. How hard could it be? Answer the phone and take messages for those who were out to lunch. I could handle that, especially with these helpful pink message pads:
Boy was I in for a surprise! It wasn't long before I was anxiously awaiting their return from lunch. I had made quite a mess of the whole thing. This week's Gospel speaks of the vigilant servant awaiting the master's return.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” Luke 12:32-48
Jesus reinforces the need for His disciples to remain vigilant for the return of their master. He does so by reminding them that they are required to do more than just await the master's return. They are also called to be faithful to the job the master has given them. Peter questions Jesus as to whether this applies to those closest to Him or to the average believer. As He commonly does Jesus goes even deeper with His lesson. With the backdrop of unfaithful servants being severely punished Jesus tells His disciples that they will be held to an even higher standard.
If we have decided to follow Jesus, in essence, we have volunteered to work for the master. But even with the best of intentions, life gets in the way! All the more reason for us to diligently pursue Jesus and the role He entrusts to us.
Imagine handing Him this "WHILE YOU WERE OUT" form each day in prayer.
To: Jesus, my Master
WHILE YOU WERE OUT
MESSAGE: As people came across my path I did my best to love and serve them as you called me to do. Many times I was challenged and made a mess of things but you knew my heart and you forgave me when I sought forgiveness. Thank you for your trust in me. I give you my life as I joyfully await your return.
I love you,
(enter your name here)