Gospel Lectio Divina for Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 7, 2022
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 the servants 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.”
Ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks
There’s the analogy of someone knocking at the door again. Only this time, it’s not Jesus telling us that the door will be opened when we knock. He is advising us to return the favor when he comes knocking. Is this a reference to the final judgment only, or is he referring to his final coming? Well, both. Remember, there is an analogical and anagogic sense to Scripture. I need to be ready when Christ comes at the end of time, but also when he comes knocking in my everyday life. After all, I do not know when he will come knocking for the last time–so one of those everyday visits will be the final coming.
But for the sake of the day-to-day spiritual life, I’d like to address the fact that Jesus does knock every day. I need to be open to him, open my heart, invite him in, and converse with him. He has so many answers. He has what I’m looking for. I believe, but need help with my unbelief everyday. So those daily knocks are vital. They may come in the form of an email inviting me to read Scripture, a book that a friend or family member gives me, a God incident (“coincidence”) that stops me in my tracks, or something someone says to me that touches my heart and makes me reflect on God’s love. The list goes on. He knocks every day, sometimes more than once. Will I be open to him?
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival
In keeping the faith, there is a great deal of waiting involved. We hold vigils to prove our faithfulness as we wait for the Lord to act, for the Lord to return. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but ponder, what if we are wrong? What if Jesus isn’t coming back, and what if a life of faith ends up being all in vain? Blaise Pascal, a philosopher and mathematician during the Enlightenment, and a Christian, asked the same question. His conclusion is known as Pascal’s Wager, which states:
“ Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”
Fans of sports teams could wait an entire lifetime for their team to win a championship and never see it happen. Was their hope all in vain? I would say no, of course not. As we wait, we learn what it means to be faithful, hopeful, and patient. We learn how to live with integrity. At the end of our lives, being vigilant in waiting for the Lord will make us into virtuous people because of the very nature of vigilance. God is vigilant in waiting for us to turn to him. By being vigilant as we wait for him, as we wait for anything good, we exhibit one of his qualities.
And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.
If you’ve ever kept watch overnight, you know what Jesus is talking about. There is usually a team who watches with you. How important and wise it is for Jesus to mention this. We do not keep watch alone. We can’t. He does not expect us to stay up all night waiting. That is why we need fellowship and community in the faith. We need help keeping vigil. We need to carry each other and carry each other’s crosses when we are weak and tired. When someone needs a break, we need to be there to fill in. When we need a break, we need to be humble enough to pass on the torch. I know, I know. You don’t want to miss out. You don’t want to miss that moment Jesus does come back. In thinking of that possibility, the concept of a team comes to mind. In football, for example, the running back may score the touchdown, but the coach called the play, the quarterback called gave the handoff, the linemen blocked, the receivers either ran a route or blocked. They all played a part. The touchdown was a team effort. When Jesus comes, or when some graceful moment happens, don’t worry about being asleep when it does if you helped keep vigil–if you kept watch during your shift. If that happens, the one who is keeping watch will wake you with great joy and you will think it’s a dream. But it will be real.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
What a stark portent. Thank God Jesus is not afraid to be direct. A loving leader warns his followers about imminent dangers. Some people think it’s too dark and foreboding to mention the coming judgment of God, but it would be inconsiderate to not tell us. Love cares what happens to the beloved. If I claim that I love someone, but do not point out that their actions may lead to some serious consequences, I am not loving them. It is important to remember Christ’s teachings on God’s final judgment. It’s also important to note that they’re not just warnings of imminent danger. They are also reasons for hope and rejoicing for those who are vigilant, because for those who keep the faith his Second Coming will be a joyous occasion.
Thank you for the hope you give. Help me to be vigilant as I wait for your return. Having faith is not easy. Sometimes I wonder why you make it so difficult. But it’s my own stubbornness that makes it so hard. Teach me to be humble and to see the truth all around me, your truth. Let that truth lead me to the hope of your return, so I may live a life of virtue and vigilance. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
If we listen, we can hear rumors of Christ’s second coming. Reporters don’t talk about it in the news, politicians don’t mention it in their speeches; but the truth that it will happen is between the lines. It is the subtext of all reality, the wavelink that connects everything. We just need to tune into the right frequency. We do that through prayer, fasting, and good works. When we do that, we will find out soon enough that those rumors are true.
Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.