The parable of today’s gospel focuses on the unpredictable return of Jesus and our need to be prepared for His return. It is one of the three eschatological discourses in the Gospel.
According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader sense they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth. Since the precise time of each is unknown to us, the proper attitude for Jesus’ followers is constant watchfulness.
We always carry a spare tire in our car as preparation for a flat. We have insurance in preparation for a theft, fire trucks in preparation for a fire. Airline agents provide pre-flight instruction in preparation for stormy weather and we seek education in preparation for a good job.
Preparation in our society is a sign of wisdom. But think about this. Of all the preparations that we make for the things, not a single one is a certainty – yet we feel compelled to prepare ourselves for them.
There is a story about a happy family. One of their recreations is trying their luck in the lotto. The father would buy some tickets and gives them to his children, including their grandfather who is 85.
One day, the father bought some again. When the winning numbers were published, one of their ticket numbers won the jackpot of 10 million! And the ticket was in the hand of their grandpa. They were afraid to reveal the news to him because he had a weak heart and may die of excitement.
So they invited a priest-friend from the parish, instructing him about their difficulty and what to do. The young priest didn’t have second thoughts accepting the invitation… thinking he would get a share. The priest visited the family and talked with the grandfather. When the priest was about to leave, he said casually to the old man, “By the way, grandpa suppose you won the lotto and wins the jackpot prize of 10 million, what will you do with the money?”
“What, 10 million?” replied the grandfather, “That’s a big amount, Father.” “Well,” the grandpa paused for a moment then smiled, “Father, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give 5 million to my children and grandchildren… and donate 5 million to you!” The priest was so surprised and overjoyed that he collapsed and died of heart attack!
This story illustrates how unexpected death can happen. Therefore Jesus in today’s gospel reminds us to be prepared.
The return of Jesus is a certainty. We can never know precisely when He will return or when we will die, but His return is certain. We must constantly watch, being always faithful and ready so that we may be found worthy to share in the heavenly banquet He has prepared for us.
How can one be prepared? When Jesus talks about the last judgment, He makes it clear that this preparedness would be measured by our readiness to serve the people we meet. He said: “What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do this unto me.” We have to complete the task entrusted to us every day and be at peace with and at the service of our neighbor now, to be ready for His second coming.
Let us be faithful to the life and mission of Jesus as we await the end time, His second coming. Despite criticisms, rejection, pain and suffering, let us remain faithful to the Love of the Father as Jesus did. Let us fulfill the mission entrusted to us, that is, to proclaim God’s reign to all. God loves faithfulness and rewards those who are faithful to Him.
At the moment of death, if we are in the state of grace, then we are in the friendship of God and we have renounced sin, and we are ready to face the eternal judgment of God.
But if we are in the state of sin, which separates us from God, then we have much to dread at the moment of death. So let us be reconciled to God by a sincere contrition and confession of our sins and lead a faithful and sacramental life to face the last judgement.