A to-do list from Jesus
A Reflection for Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
When I’m preparing for a big event, I like to make lists. Depending on the event, this might include items to pack, groceries to buy, meals to prep, rooms to clean. I don’t always get through every item, but the practice helps me to feel a bit more ready when the time comes.
Today, Jesus offers a short to-do list to his listeners. He urges them to gird their loins and light their lamps—items which rarely make my to-do lists but seem central to understanding the message of today’s Gospel. Jesus wants his followers to be ready for a challenging time ahead. We modern-day listeners are urged to do the same. (And not just to be ready in that sort of panicked, last-minute, rush out the door after grabbing keys, wallet, and phone kind of way, to which I may be prone.)
If we desire to be prepared to see Christ in others, we might find ourselves creating a different sort of list, one that allows us to continually ask ourselves: How do we carry our own light in the world?
In fact, Jesus is asking us not just to be ready, but to be “vigilant.” Vigilance means a sort of constant watchfulness, an awareness, an alertness. We are being asked to be ready for the coming of Christ again in our world. And that’s not the sort of thing that’s easy to prepare for at the last minute.
Preparing for the coming of Christ sometimes seems so overwhelming that it can be paralyzing. Instead of vigilance, we find ourselves embracing laziness or apathy rather than tackling injustice or offering a simple kindness. But preparing for Christ’s coming is a process, rather than a single act. It means being willing to spot glimpses of each day, even as we wait for more. But we may only be able to see these small moments if we ready ourselves along the way.
If we desire to be prepared to see Christ in others, we might find ourselves creating a different sort of list, one that allows us to continually ask ourselves: How do we carry our own light in the world? How do we treat the light of Christ in others when we see it? Do we nurture it or try to extinguish it? How willing are we to face challenges for our faith and our beliefs? Am I truly prepared to do what Jesus asks of me?