From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
“Stay awake! For you do not know the time or hour.” Our readings this week provide us a clear warning to be prepared for the end time to come. We should not wait, for we do not know the time or hour. These readings harken back to the first gospel of the year which offered the same warning. This is also an invitation as well. An invitation to enter into a relationship with God, but we need to prepare and ’have our lamps properly trimmed.’ Between that first reading of the year and now, our readings have continued the narrative of how we enter fully into a relationship with God. It is important that we listen and respond that we might not be surprised by His coming.
Our parable portrays Christ as the bridegroom and the virgins as Christians waiting for His return. Some are vigilant and wise. Others are foolish and ill prepared. The Christians suffered for their faith much as we do today, and they were tempted to disappointment. We wait for Jesus to come and wonder where He is. The parable calls us to vigilance, preparedness and watchfulness. We must stay alert, remain awake and be prepared for His coming. When we hear this, we think of His coming as the moment of death. We should not limit ourselves though only to thinking of the time Jesus comes as that moment of death.
We need to be prepared in the here and now because, in many ways now is when heaven begins for us. Christ comes into our life every day. Do we stay alert to see Him, to hear Him, to respond to His presence? He comes in the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and the imprisoned. He comes in the homeless, the refugees and the oppressed. We must not get distracted and fall asleep in the waiting, in the suffering, in the fear of tragedies. We are called to respond with love and mercy – as He did on the cross. We are called to wait in hope that what Jesus has promised will come to be.
What helps us to stay awake and alert to what is happening in our lives – to see the presence of Christ? We must have patience as we wait for God. Persistence and prayer – vigilant prayer – should form our foundation. We must be prepared to respond with works of mercy, acts of justice and forgiveness, picking up our crosses to ‘come and follow Him!’
As Vincentians, this is what our vocation is about – staying engaged and staying awake. Daily being aware of the presence of God, the suffering of others (and ourselves) and the grace of God’s mercy working in the midst of that suffering. It is here – with the vulnerable and the poor – where Jesus took up residence. It is here where we find holiness. It is that holiness – on a daily basis – which we seek. Am I fully invested in my ministry and vocation with SVdP? Or do I only ‘do SVdP’ a day or two or three a week? Do I fully embrace my ministry, making it a complete part of who I am or is it ‘an oil lamp’ not fully trimmed?
Father, Infuse my heart with a deep desire to always seek you and please you. Help me to stay alert; help me to stay engaged; help me to make your constant love for the vulnerable and poor my love as well, that I might always gaze at your compassion and mercy. Grace me with the virtues of zeal, selflessness and gentleness that I may continually give of myself with passion and kindness to those who are in need. Connect my suffering to theirs and to yours that it may help me to stay continually awake to your eternal hope. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen