Are You “Semper Paratus” Always Ready?
A Reflection for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
The readings for this Sunday remind us that we never know when we will be called home to the Lord and that we should always be prepared and ready. Many people believe that the reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was referring to the final days of the world but I feel that it is referring to the time when God will call us home to answer for our lives here on earth and how we used the gifts he provided us with.
“The Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens…. it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
As I go about tending to those who are ill and as I myself advance in age I often wonder if this persons illness is the illness that will be the last one on this earth or will the person recover to live and use their God given gifts in a manner that will reward them when they are called home with these words from God “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:14-30 I examine my own actions each and every day to determine if I did all I could do to help those in need of comfort, spiritual uplifting or just some companionship and conversation. Have I shared myself and the gifts God gave me with others?
During these troubling times with the downturn in the economy, war, famine, genocide and job and home losses we hear daily of the excesses that the financial institutions and corporate executives have lavished upon themselves as rewards in spite of the fact that their greed and avarice how contributed to our problems. Some even continue their excesses in spite of the fact that the taxpayer and the average citizen is paying for their bailout are suffering because of their greed. They certainly have misused the gifts that God has given them and I am certain that they will be called to answer for their misuse when they have their judgment day.
The same holds true for those government and church leaders who attempt to impose their dictates upon others, usually for financial or power gains, at the cost of many lives and suffering to so many innocent children and adults. Restrictions and laws that segregate and exclude some from equal justice are imposed that deprive people of equal rights.
This week’s readings should be a wake up call to us. We need to acquire the motto “Semper Paratus” as the way of living so that we will be ready when we are called before God to answer for how we used the gifts he gave us.
Have we shared our resources with those in need? Have we shown compassion for the aged and sick? Have we practiced discrimination or have we shown brotherly love to all God’s children?
We have been given the instructions on how we should live this earthly life by Christ in the Beatitudes He preached in the Sermon on the Mount and with His parables like the Good Samaritan.
Next week we will be celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving to commemorate the first Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims had to thank God for bringing them to this New Land or as they called it New England and the harvest they had. They had a feast and invited the natives of the area rather than exclude them because it was the natives that taught them how to survive in this new country. We, as children of God, need to embrace the custom of welcoming newcomers who come here seeking a “better life” than in their birth countries just as the Pilgrims were welcomed and helped by the Wampanoag Indians of “New England”.
We, who are all brothers and sisters in Christ and Children of God no matter what religious denomination we belong to, need to work together striving to bring about a time when ALL God’s children live in a place where they have adequate food, housing, medical care and experience justice, peace, and equality.
We need to be able to tell God we used the treasures He gave us well and they increased in worth because we did not hide them and hoard them for ourselves but used them to good advantage and shared them with others. By sharing our gifts we will be assured that when our time here is over and we are called before God we will hear Him tell us “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” AMEN