Why the sudden change today from St. Mark to St. Luke in today’s lesson? Because today is marked out in the Church year as an Ember Day, more specifically Ember Wednesday before Christmas. Advent is often seen as a “Little Lent” in which we prepare for the feast of Christmas, and so the Ember Days are to be used as days of fasting and praying, and there is also a tradition of it being a time to give to the poor. In this way, even as the Fall harvest is gathered in, we deny ourselves some of it so that we mortify the flesh as a means of preparation.
The great theme from today’s lesson from Luke 12 is to prepare for the coming of the Master. I’m getting a sense of déjà vu. Haven’t I heard this before somewhere? Performing a quick word search in my Give Us This Day files, I remember now that on Monday of the First Sunday in Advent we heard John the Baptist cry: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight” and heard him preach a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Now I remember that Advent is a liturgical alarm clock going off in our heads. Just in case any of you have chosen to fall asleep in the last two weeks, Ember Wednesday is your own personal snooze alarm.
WAKE UP! Be like men who wait for their master (verse 35.)
The truth is that your Master is coming. The admonition to stand at attention and look for the coming of our Master has reference to the Second Coming of Christ. No man knows when that will be, and so we’d better all be ready.
But Jesus has delayed His Second Coming. It’s been 2000 years and counting, and the odds are He won’t come today or tomorrow.
But what if He did?
What if Jesus Christ returned to earth tomorrow at 6:21 p.m.? What would He find? Not just what particular activity would He find you doing (though He cares about that, too), but what would be the sum of your life before Him? I don’t know how He will measure your life, but I do know that He will do it.
We used to sing of Santa Claus:
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice:
Santa Claus is coming to town
At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, what if we substituted “Jesus Christ”
for “Santa Claus”? (What a novel idea – substituting Jesus Christ for Santa Claus at Christmas!) One day, Jesus Christ will come and judge both the living and the dead.
When He does, I think He may take into consideration some of the following things:
Did you come to worship Him in His Church when He called you?
Did you hear His holy Word?
Have you obeyed His commandments?
What have you done that you should not have done – not things in the past and repented of but things still actively doing without repentance?
What have you not done that you should have done?
How often each day and week did you turn to Him in prayer?
Did you in your heart, even if weakly, truly desire Him?
How did you spend the time He gave you?
How did you spend the money He gave you?
How well did you love those He put in your life?
Did you love Him with all your heart?
Considering the seriousness of Christ’s coming and the wanderings of my own heart, I am grateful that God gives me reminder after reminder. In Advent, we have an annual reminder not only that Jesus Christ has come, and therefore we should rejoice with exceedingly great joy, but also that Jesus Christ is coming, and therefore we should prepare our hearts. On this Ember Wednesday, we get an even more particular and pointy reminder (Ouch!) that Jesus Christ is coming.
The truth is that every day is a reminder of the coming of Jesus Christ because every day He is truly with His people. Every day is Christmas, but every day is also Advent. That is the tension of the “now but not yet” with which we live in this world. These days, whose number no man can count, will one day become The Day. But it is not only that God cares about you in eternity. He cares about you now. He comes to you now. Have you been watching?
The only way to prepare for meeting God in eternity is to prepare to meet Him today. The way we receive Him every day is the way we prepare for His Coming. Every day He comes, and every day is the Day in which He may come with great finality.
Blessed is that servant whom his Master will find so doing when He comes.
My prayer for you all, though I do not know some of you personally, is that you will be a wise and faithful steward who will be blessed when his Master comes – blessed this very day. For Jesus Christ is coming, and He is already with us.
Prayer: Awake me today, Lord, from my spiritual slumber. Rouse me by Your Holy Spirit that I may be made alive to You again. Give me Your grace that I may remember and seek You today and every day of my life until that Day when You shall come in judgment. Amen.
Resolution and Point for Meditation: I resolve to find one way to help me remember the Coming of my Master. Choosing to fast, pray, or give alms (three things Jesus expected on the Sermon on the Mount that He would find His disciples doing) would be especially appropriate. Fasting and almsgiving should be accompanied by praying, and prayer should be accompanied by some practical action.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day