Read Mark 13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
Do you remember the story of Rip Van Winkle? It’s the story of a man who is well loved by the people in his village. He lived during the time prior to the Revolutionary War. Van Winkle’s major character flaw was that he was lazy and that he loathed any kind of “profitable labor”. His wife, Dame Van Winkle, is on his case about his laziness and he does anything to escape her nagging him.
One day, while escaping his exasperated wife, Rip goes hiking in the mountains. While hiking he runs into a group of men who offer him some liquor to drink. Taking the drink Rip gets very sleepy and falls asleep. When he wakes up he notices that his gun is rotted and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Heading back to town Rip makes the mistake of saying that he is a loyal subject of King George III. What Rip doesn’t realize is that he has been asleep for twenty year and that the American Revolution has taken place and the American colonies have won their independence from Great Britain.
In today’s reading, Jesus is talking about when he will return at the end times and he warns his disciples that they need to be ready and to be always watching. He uses the metaphor of a servant who is caught asleep on the job by the master of the house who has just returned home. Not a good spot to be in if you are the servant. Jesus is warning his disciples that there is much work to do and there isn’t any time to be wasting.
Many people spend their time, when reading verses like this, discussing and trying to predict the meaning in terms of Jesus’ second coming; however, I also see another profoundly powerful way of looking at what Jesus is teaching his disciples. In every question Jesus is given regarding the end of the world, he always points his disciples back to his mission and the urgency to carry it out.
Another way to look at what Jesus was talking about is through the story of Mother Teresa. There were many times she felt like giving up, many times when she was tired, worn out, doubtful and on the verge of giving up; however, she never ceased to serve the marginalized and outcast people of Calcutta, India. She said that every time she looked into the eyes of the people she was serving, she saw Jesus. It is this persistent vision of Jesus in the faces of those she served that helped her to endure in the mission of Christ.
This is what Jesus called his disciples toward. Rather, than sitting around and waiting for the master to return, rather than sitting around and waiting for the advent of the messiah, Jesus wants his disciples to live as if he has already arrived. Christ’s disciples are to see Jesus in everything they do, in everyone they meet and in every place they travel to. Christ is to consume us at every moment and, when that happens, we can be assured that we will not be caught unaware at the presence of Christ.
Jesus doesn’t want a bunch of disciples falling asleep, like Rip Van Winkle, only to wake up and realize that Christ has come and gone. He doesn’t want his disciples to sit idly by while the marginalized and the needy continue to linger on without hope, healing, and wholeness. Disciples of Christ need to be alert to the presence of Christ in the world, and they need to never quit doing the work of Christ in the world. In fact, it is by doing the work of Christ in the world that we, as disciples, will truly see the presence of Christ! Let us be like Mother Teresa who, no matter the circumstances, never fail to see Christ in the people all around us!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
When we put on this new mind, the mind of Jesus, then his kingdom is coming in our world. Then Jesus is King of our world. – Mother Teresa
Lord Jesus, help me to see you in everything I see. Help me to be your hands and feet for everyone I see. Amen.