Gospel Luke 12:35-40
“You too must stand ready…”
There is something ominous and intimidating about the language in today’s Gospel – ‘be ready, for the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night.’ It is easy to read this as something threatening – as some kind of a blunt instrument used to instil fear in believers and perhaps hopefully sceptics, with a view to keeping people ‘in line.’
I do not think though that this is necessarily the case. Jesus seems to be giving some specific instructions as to our behaviour and the state of our soul, but more than this, he is inviting us to a heightened awareness of how we are in relation to the people and the world around us.
We are creatures of habit, and most of what we do and say, not to mention our innermost reactions to external stimuli, well up within us without so much as a millisecond of conscious thought. What Jesus may well be inviting us to do here, is to examine these pre-conscious habits, these modes of acting and reacting that have become subconscious. To see how various habit-forming rituals have formed us and continue to shape us every day.
In a sense, he is inviting us to habituate ourselves into a manner of being that: firstly, is receptive of the love of God; and, secondly, seeks to become a conduit for that love to the people around us.
Read like this, Jesus’ admonition to his disciples to be ready is not about being within a stone’s throw of a Church, or never to spend any time in rest and recreation. Rather, Jesus is inviting us to look at our character, the kind of person we are, the kinds of habits we think and act out of, the kinds of things that we desire, the things that move us, the things we love.
Jesus wants to invite us to be habituated into his love. To live and act out of his love, as if out of a ‘second nature’ – this is Redemption. This is freedom. The freedom for which Christ has set us free.
Be ready. Do not allow yourself to take up again the yoke of slavery from which Christ has freed us by his death and resurrection.