I remember once seeing a tee shirt that bore the slogan “Jesus is coming! Quick! Look busy!” Not a bad joke I suppose – well, it made me smile, but with it comes a serious issue.
It’s very easy to order our lives in neat little compartments. There’s the part where we know that God is with us, and the part where we barely think of Him at all. A line can get drawn between the sacred and the secular.
Jesus tells us in this morning’s gospel to be ready like servants waiting for their master to return – a stern warning that we need to take on board. Even if we put our lives into these compartments, even subconsciously (and let’s face it, I’m sure we’re all guilty of it from time to time) it’s a great shame, because as Christians, we all know that really, there is no time when the master is away. So, it’s not good enough to simply look busy only when we think that God’s watching us – we need to be ready at all times.
Jesus says “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in Heaven”
How many of you here carry purses? To be honest I don’t – I tend to cram everything in my pockets and these day where just about everywhere takes contactless payments, I very rarely carry cash anyway!
But purses are interesting things. They are only small, but so many things get crammed into them.
In the middle east in the time of Jesus, just about everyone carried a purse with all manner of useful things in it including, of course, money. Jesus tells us that it would be good for us to make for ourselves spiritual purses – with spiritually useful things in them – and especially with treasures that won’t fail in heaven – but continue to provide for us the things we need.
Unfailing treasure in heaven.
But what is this unfailing treasure? How do we make and accumulate a purse full of it?
Treasures in heaven are those things we give away here on earth. The kingdom comes in the giving.
That means we we’ll never have treasure in heaven, and we’ll not be as glad to see the coming of the kingdom as we might be, if we wait until we have enough of whatever it is we think we don’t have before we spread good will and engage in random acts of kindness.
It’s very easy is it for us to give to those who can give back to us, but how hard is it for us to give to those we think won’t give back?
We keep waiting for more money before we do that nice thing we would like to do.
We keep waiting for more time before we do that special something with somebody that we have been planning to do one day,
We keep waiting until we feel more fit before we engage in getting fit.
We keep waiting till we have learned more before we begin our project.
We keep waiting for the right time, the right person, the right
circumstance, rather than risking with what we have, and with who we have before us, right now.
We can find it hard to forgive those who are seeking forgiveness, never mind forgiving those who still seem intent on hurt us and others.
This passage can be seen to have two meanings. In one sense, it refers to the second coming of Christ, but in a wider sense it refers to the time when God’s summons enters our lives.
With what we do, with what we think, with what we pray,
ultimately, even what we feel, makes our spiritual purse – and helps to establish the unfailing treasure we will enjoy both in heaven and here on earth.
The servants in this passage know their master and understand that he is unpredictable, but they also know that the master loves them and will treat them to a feast when he arrives, even if that is in the middle of the night!
So we don’t know the day or the hour when the summons will come, but how would we like God to find us when it does?
Perhaps he should find us with our work completed. For many of us, life is filled with loose ends. There are thingss undone, things half done, rhings put off and things not even attempted.
I hope we would want God to find us at peace with each other. It would be pretty unpleasant to pass from this world in bitterness with a neighbour. We are told in the letter to the Ephesians that we should never let the sun go down on our anger.
Most of all, we should be prepared for God to find us at peace with him. It makes all the difference whether we feel we’ll be going out to a stranger, or if we are going to peacefully fall asleep in the arms of God.
The kingdom begins here – in our experience of what happens when we live as if it was coming to us soon, when we live as if it was already here.
Although Jesus appears to be giving a warning in today’s gospel, he also gives great reassurance that if we are ready, we will be at peace with God