Tuesday, October 22, 2013

the necessity of constant vigilence

‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.'
Luke 12. 35-38

As I was reflecting on the above text (today's Gospel for Holy Communion) I was reminded of surprise inspections during my days in the military. Weeks or months of training could go for naught simply because, due to some lapse or other, all was not as it should be when the inspector called. And getting a poor report or a chewing out was bitter indeed when you knew it was all down to a momentary lack of focus. Still, it was very real world: the enemy wasn't going to send advance notice of an attack so you could have all in readiness. The only answer was constant vigilance. Being ready 99 percent of the time was no good, if the surprise visit or attack came during the fatal one percent moment.

And for some reason, the text also makes me think of the Fall of our first parents:

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’
Genesis 3. 8-13

A surprise inspection following hard on the heels of an enemy attack, neither of which they were prepared for. Which is why we need to be constantly vigilant. We never know when temptation will come and if it catches us unprepared the suddenness of its onslaught may cause us to yield. And as for the surprise inspection, well our Lord constantly warned us that we know not the day nor the hour. It might not be for decades. It might be our very next heartbeat. But eventually it comes to us all. And we must be ready. And the only way to be ready is by constant vigilance. Pray that when your moment comes you will be found to be a watchful slave.

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