Tuesday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time           

            St. Francis of Assisi, hoeing his garden, was asked what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he was to die at sunset that day. He said, “I would finish hoeing my garden.” Why did Francis answer that way? Because he believed that doing God’s will for that particular moment was the best way he could prepare himself to meet the Lord in the time of his death. Since God wanted him to be at the garden at that particular time of the day, he would just continue doing what he was supposed to do. This constant concern for doing God’s good pleasure made St. Francis ever ready to appear before him and be judged by him at any time.

            Today’s gospel reading reminds us to be semper paratus or always prepared. Why? Because “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” This statement of Jesus has two senses: In the narrower sense, it refers to his Second Coming at the end of the world. In the wider sense, they refer to the time of our death.

            The best way “to be always prepared” is to live by the “as if principle.” That is, to live as if the Lord were going to meet us today in death; to live as if this were the last day or the last hour of our life.

            Just imagine the difference it can make if we live by this principle, or, at least, with the thought that we do not have much time left. First, it can deepen our relationship with God. We will be more preoccupied with doing God’s will rather than with our own selfish ambitions. Second, it can make us view our personal life in the right perspective. We will not allow ourselves be imprisoned and paralyzed by the guilt of the past and the worries of the future. Third, it can make us give due importance to our family and other significant persons in our life. We will spend more time with them and have deeper and more meaningful relationships with them.

            Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s goodness and kindness so that we can be good and kind and do good to others. Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s mercy and forgiveness so that we can be merciful and forgiving to one another. Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s compassion so that we can always be present to our suffering neighbor.

            Let us beg the Lord to help us to keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s grace. Let the lamp of practical love, transforming faith, and patient hope keep burning in the depth of our heart.

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