August 30, 2012
by Rev. Fr. Chris Habal
(Lunch Mass at Edsa Shrine)
Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
The great theme, the great lesson of today's Gospel is vigilance, watchfulness, and being awake, for we do not know the day or the hour of the return of our Lord, of our Master.
Vigilance, watchfulness, staying awake - these virtues, these lessons are even more rooted in an even more basic reality of our lives. A basic truth of our being human beings - and that is, that we are only stewards. Because we are stewards, in the end, we are accountable to the true Master, to the true Lord, who is God. Let us always remind ourselves of that. Everything we have, everything we enjoy, the loved ones who we cherish, the properties that belong to us - all these things- the world we inhabit, the life we live, all these are just entrusted to us by God. We are stewards, not masters of this world. Because we are aware that we are stewards, we will be accountable to the One who entrusted to us all these good gifts.
Part of being accountable is precisely to be vigilant, watchful, and to stay awake. The next question that we should ask ourselves after becoming aware that we are stewards, that everything belongs to God, and that He has entrusted all these things to us is - how are we going to be vigilant?
The first word of Jesus is, "stay awake". In the Scriptures, napakayaman ng salitang "stay awake", especially when we read the Psalms - there is always the picture of somebody who "stays awake in the night", who "watches in the night", who "makes vigil in the night", to "wait for the coming of the Lord". This "staying awake" is closely related with a life of prayer - constant prayer. We are vigilant if we are always praying - If we have developed that life of prayer, that day after day, we recourse to prayer. Because when we forget prayer, we will develop that illusion that we are lords, that we are masters, that we are only accountable to ourselves and to nobody else. But the more we pray, the more we become in touch with God. The more we become aware of our ultimate accountability to Him. The more we pray, the more we become aware that all things we enjoy comes from the goodness of God and are only entrusted to us. The first step of being vigilant is developing that life of prayer - that habit of prayer. As if we are reporting all our affairs to our true Owner - to our true Master. As if we are asking help, sustenance, blessings from the One who gives us all these good things.
Secondly, a vigilant man - one who stays awake and waits for the coming of the Lord - is also one who lives in charity. Napakalinaw po noon ano. Kaya sabi ni Hesus, towards the end, "who is the unfaithful servant"? The unfaithful servant is the one who beats his fellow servant. He is the one who eats and drinks with drunkards. He is the one who thinks that what he owns what he has, really belongs to him, and therefore, abuses it. But the faithful servant, being aware that all things are just entrusted to him, takes care of it with accountability. He is good to all; he performs his duties with great care. The second sign that we are vigilant, that we are watching, that we are staying awake for the coming of the Lord, is when we live in goodness, in charity, in kindness.
And so my dear brothers and sisters, in this mass, we pray for the grace that at the end our lives, we may hear the voice of the Master welcoming us, telling us that we have been faithful, that we have been awake, that we have been watchful for His coming. In prayer, in charity and in goodness to our brothers and sisters, we grow in the spirit of stewardship, in the spirit of vigilance, in the spirit of watchfulness, for the coming of the Lord, Amen.