November 28, 2010
Matthew 24: 37 – 44
Jeff was caught in traffic on his way home from work. He was becoming concerned. His wife Audrey had already asked him very clearly to be home at 6:30 to discuss a family matter. It did not look like he was going to make it. He knew that his two sons, Brett who was ten and Tommy who was eight, would be with their grandparents. This meant that he and Audrey would be home alone together for the first time in months. Jeff looked forward to the evening. He liked being with Audrey. They had been married 16 years and she was a wonderful mother. But she could also be frustrating and demanding—like asking that he be home at 6:30. He knew that Audrey would not understand his being late. He felt that she did not appreciate his work schedule and how little control he had over it. As much time as he tried to find for Audrey and the kids, she never seemed satisfied. She always wanted more.
When Jeff entered the house, Audrey was sitting in the living room on the couch. “That’s a bit strange,” he thought, “Perhaps she’s already upset about me being late.” So he walked over. “Hello honey. I am sorry I am late.” He took a seat on the chair across from her. As he did so, he noticed Tommy’s toys on the floor in the living room. He grumbled to himself, “How many times did I tell her to pick up after Tommy? Those toys lying around really make our house look shabby.”
But he rallied himself and said, “Honey I know you want to talk about something. What is it?” Audrey looked directly at her husband. “I am going to put this straight, Jeff,” she said, “and then give you time to take it in. We have not connected with one another in years. I think I am invisible to you. The counseling has not helped. I saw a lawyer today and filed for divorce.” Jeff held his breath. The first thing he thought was this: “Wow. I am not prepared for this!”
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to be prepared because at an hour that we do not expect the Son of Man will come. Now of course Jesus’ words most directly refer to his own coming at the end of time. But they can also apply to all those times in our life when unexpectedly things change: when the boss asks us to step into his office for a minute, when the doctor tells us there’s bad news, when the police are at our door at 2:00 am, when our sister calls to tell us Dad has died. In those moments, life changes. Jesus asks us to be prepared. But how can we prepare, when we do not know what to expect? How can we get ready for what is unknown? We cannot see the future.
We will be prepared, if we live with thankfulness. Jesus says, stay awake, be aware, be attentive to the blessings you have received. Be thankful for them, because gratitude will ready you for what is to come. Then you will be able to live without regret.
Jesus asks us to be aware of our marriage, to know its strengths and its weaknesses, to be thankful for the love, to be diligent with the communication so that when our marriage–like all good things–eventually comes to an end, we will be able to say we worked together, we were really partners, we did not take one another for granted.
Jesus asks us to be attentive to the people with whom we work, to notice the way that they support us, the way that we enjoy them, the way that we can accomplish things together. Ultimately things will change and those people will no longer be in our lives. But we will be prepared because we know that we appreciated their goodness while we were with them.
Jesus asks us to be thankful for our health, for our energy, for our ability to do what we need to do. There will be a time when our strength will fade. But we will be prepared, if as long as we were healthy we knew our health was a gift.
Jesus asks us to be thankful for the people we love, for our parents, for our children for our friends. In time we will have to say goodbye to them all. Yet when that day comes, we will be prepared because we loved them now. We took the time to be with them and enjoy them. If we live in that way, when the hour comes, we will have no regrets.
To live is to change and we cannot predict what change will be next. That is why we are called to live with thankfulness for the blessings we have received. Gratitude is the way we ready ourselves for what is to come. If we live our lives in thankfulness, we will live well. And when our life changes, we will be able to say, “Well, I did not expect this. But thank God I am prepared.”