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Controlling That Which Is Controllable


“Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.” ~ Roger Zelazny

When the topic turns to end times theology, most of us I would assert, myself included, immediately call to mind the Book of Revelation, Daniel perhaps, and maybe a few others (Timothy, Isaiah, etc). Yet it is in today’s Gospel Passage, taken from the final chapters of Matthew’s (Mt 24:42-51) that we are taught everything we truly need to know and perhaps more importantly, we are reminded to focus on that which we can control. Whereas the fiery battles, colorful imagery, and unforgettable characters of John’s Apocalypse conjure up sublime speculation, box office bucks, hypotheses and even prognostications as to the actual time and date, an admittedly addictive albeit fruitless endeavor (Mt 24:36, Thes 5:1-3, Peter 3:10, Rev 3:3, etc), it is today’s lesson that we must heed and immediately put to work in our lives. In reality, what we learn today is all we truly need to know in order to secure our eternal fate abs it is certainly the only thing we can control in the grander scheme of things.

“Stay awake!,” Jesus implores those in his midst. “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Saint John Bosco echos Jesus’ sentiments when he says "Remember that at the hour of death we shall reap what we have sown in life. If we have done good works, we will be happy. Death will be a blessing because it will usher us into Paradise. Otherwise, woe to us! Remorse of conscience and the open jaws of hell will await us. Keep ready! One who is not ready for a good death today runs the risk of dying a bad one tomorrow."

Compared to eternity, a concept that in and of itself is so enigmatic and vast that it’s hardly fathomable, the time we spend here on earth is minuscule . In this precise moment, as I type this very sentence, Jesus’ eternal word, which is truth, is communicating to you, me and everyone else on the planet. Christians believe God is at work not only in Creation in general, but in every individual life and in the broad sweep of time. His only begotten Son Jesus desires to speak to us, reveal himself to us. This is in part why he took flesh and became man. In Jesus, Heaven has come down to Earth. It has walked its streets, been baptized in its waters, broken bread with its denizens, our fellow members of His Mystical Body. He remains with us, most substantially through the Holy Eucharist, our very lifeline to the Heavenly Kingdom. As we see in today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of His return even before his passion, death and resurrection and subsequent ascension into Heavenly glory. He was already speaking of his second coming at the end of time.

The details are not ours to know. It’s best that way for a number of reasons. As Jesus Himself says, “Not even the angels of Heaven, not even He Himself, knows the day or the hour. That is for God the Father and only God the Father to know.” (Mark 13:32). Our focus should instead be fixed squarely on preparation, staying alert, and the cultivation of prudence, the charioteer of all virtues In today’s parable, the faithful and prudent servant is at the service of the Kingdom of God, which is at hand and is to come. Each of us have a choice. We can serve the Kingdom of light or the Kingdom of darkness.

I leave you with the words of Saint Philip Neri, a favorite Saint of mine due in Marge part to his notorious sense of humor His words today however take on a more serious tone as he speaks in rather point blank fashion about the Savior he loved and served with such ardor and profundity.

“He who wishes for anything but Christ, does not know what he wishes; he who asks for anything but Christ, does not know what he is asking; he who works, and not for Christ, does not know what he is doing."

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“Let the end of life be considered, and there will be nothing in this world to be loved.” ~ Saint Lawrence Justinian

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