“Semper Paratus”Always Ready
A Reflection for Every Day By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Franciscans of Divine Mercy/ Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus
“No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don't know, and the Son himself doesn't know. Only the Father knows”. (Mark 13:32) I find it truly amazing that so many who consider themselves believers and followers of Jesus Christ, or Christians, seem to forget these words from Holy Scripture.
All last week, the everywhere you looked, people everywhere were talking about the “prediction” of a so called pastor, that the Apocalypse, Rapture or the end of this world as we know it was going to happen at 6:00 PM on Friday.
As this reflection can well testify, he was wrong “AGAIN!” for the third time, and now says , “ooops, I got it wrong again and my calculations were off by 5 months”
The following may sound like the beginning of a joke, but it actually happened. A Jewish Rabbi, a pastor of another denomination, a priest and I were talking about the events of the last week along with a neighbor of mine and we all said the same thing at about the same time. “The end will come for every one of us at some time and we need to be prepared as the motto the Coast Guard says we need to be “Semper Paratus” to meet our maker.” It may come very quickly without any warning like it did for my father or the victims of the recent Tsunami, earthquakes, Tornadoes or an accident or it may come after a lingering illness where the family prays that the persons suffering will come to an end as I did for my mother who suffered for more than four years.
This brought us to another observation and comments about how in this day and age attendance by members of the various Religious denominations has dwindled to such a degree that all over the world churches, Synagogues and other places of worship to God are closing because of the lack of attendance which leads to the denominations not being able to afford to keep them open and also the lack of people who are willing to make a commitment to the service of God and His people.
In short, God is the furthest thing from too many people’s minds.
Sundays are just like every other day. People make plans to shop, get their hair done, play golf or go to the beach but no where do they have time, even for an hour, to gather together as a faith community to thank God for what they are able to do and also to offer petitions to God for the needs of other or for themselves.
The gospel reading for this coming Sunday instructs us “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” And last week we heard the following; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”. If we couple all the passages from Scripture mentioned above together how is it that we can continue to live our lives so care free and have God as the person we turn to only when we are in crisis and forget about him and His commandments, especially the TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS according to Jesus Christ; “; “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is THIS; YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these.”
As I go about tending to those who are ill in the nursing home and hospices and as I myself have reached the youthful age of 75, 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 to use their God given gifts in a manner that will reward them when they are finally called home to God with these words “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
Daily I examine my own actions 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, wars raging, famine, genocide and continued high unemployment, gas prices continuing to skyrocket causing prices to soar on everything we hear daily of the excesses of so many and the exorbitant salaries being demanded by performers and professional athletes I have to wonder when people are going to wake up and come to the realization that “YOU CAN NOT TAKE MATERIAL THINGS WITH YOU WHEN THE END COMES FOR YOU”
I know of a woman who had acquired huge resources in property, money and other material things but was one of the least generous people I have ever known. Her life in her final years was extremely lonely and she complained bitterly that; “no one, even her children, seemed to care”. She died in a huge mansion alone but she did leave a huge fortune to her children who also inherited her bitterness probably because they never really knew love, kindness or saw charity in their lives.
So many people misuse the gifts that God gave them and I am certain that they will be called to answer for their misuse when they face that judgment spoken about in the Book of Daniel and when their “End Time” comes.
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.
God is going to ask us to answer for how we used His gifts to us. He will ask if we shared our resources with those in need. Did we show compassion for the aged and sick? Did we practice brotherly love to all God’s children regardless of race, creed, marital situation or sexual orientation?
Christ in the Beatitudes gave us the instructions and the way to live when He preached in the Sermon on the Mount and the parables like The Good Samaritan.
As The Gospel readings for this coming Sunday and the Readings from Last Sunday have made extremely clear there is one way, and one way only to god and that is keeping what Christ called the Greatest Commandments; “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is THIS; YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” , and remembering that we NEVER know when our end time will come so we had better be prepared and brgin to place God at the center and forefront of our lives and make time for him not only on Sunday, but every day that we live. AMEN