December 2 – Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week after Pentecost (11th of Luke) Luke 12:32-40
Ready Alert: Luke 12:32-40, especially vs. 40: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at
an hour you do not expect.” It is one thing to become an Orthodox Christian; it is another to live as a responsive
servant of Christ at all times and under every circumstance. To do so means being on “ready alert,” to borrow a
term from the military, emergency teams, and the utility companies. Terms such as on call, available, responsive,
and prepared characterize such a manner of living. Ask anyone who has served guard duty under combat
conditions, or a worker in an emergency room, or a utility repairman coping with a major storm.
Because most of us are not sufficiently aware of the actual conditions prevailing in the spiritual dimension
of this life, we behave like inexperienced children – we are liable to paralysis by fear, over-dependence on familiar
resources, and an inattentiveness to heart matters. For this reason, Christ our Lord provides instruction and
encouragement to awaken us and bring us to a higher state of alert. We hear these words in every Divine Liturgy:
“Let us attend!”
The Lord Jesus begins with fear, encouraging us not to lose heart. God the Father keeps His promises. In
fact, our Lord asserts that it is the Father’s capable, able, and good pleasure to bring about the Kingdom of God,
to assert His reign over all facets of the entire creation. God is concerned with every matter and action, even those
we cannot see physically.
However, fear, once unloosed and accepted, can either paralyze us or stampede us to great harm. In every
situation where surprise or boredom dominates, Christ encourages us to trust God’s promises such as eternal life
(1 Jn 2:25), rejoicing (Ps 29:5), comfort in trials (Is 43:2), providence (Rom 8:28), grace to face whatever comes
(2 Cor 12:9), and much, much more. Let our first response to any hint of fear be confession and a declaration of
our trust in God. It is a matter of fighting back against the weakening within ourselves by choosing to trust in the
Lord, despite whatever we may feel.
A likely occasion for fear is physical loss and a shortfall of material resources, for we tend to be oriented
toward the physical realm rather than the spiritual. Hence, it is necessary to declare that we are merely the stewards
of what is in our hands and under our control. All earthly things are the Lord’s, not ours. An excellent approach
to putting material things in their place is to tithe ten percent of our income – and then to go beyond that by
making regular offerings for those in need. The Lord Jesus frequently directs us to give alms and to apply the
standards of the Kingdom to the handling of our finances. We must remember that “where [our] treasure is, there
[our] heart will be also” (Lk 12:34). Above all, we are to value what God values: the condition of our hearts, the
quality of our motives, and our capacity to love.
Throughout this Gospel passage, Christ sets watchfulness before us. We are to wait and look for Him,
ready to respond to whatever God allows to come in life. First and foremost, we should respond in ways that are
pleasing to Him: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for
their master” (vss. 35-36).
Note that watchfulness moves in two directions simultaneously: a readiness to please God is coupled with
the inclination to resist suggestions from the enemy (vs. 39). Our foe has his devices! He makes suggestions
constantly. Never doubt that the wolf of souls is planning a trap for us every day, in every step along the way.
Nevertheless, we have hope, for “the Son of Man is coming” (vs. 40). Since we know not when, let us strive to
be alert at all times!
In the night I rise up early beseeching Thee, O Lover of mankind. Lighten me and guide me to Thy
commandments. Teach me, O Savior, to do Thy will. – Canon of Meatfare Sunday