Saturday, October 23, 2010

We must remain vigilant

"Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, tells us that just as sin came into the world through one man, so righteousness comes into the world through one man; that through one act of disobedience, all sinned, so through one act of obedience, all will become righteous. Now, it is not quite as simple as that. On the one hand, it is true that because Adam sinned, every single person born into the world - except Our Lady, conceived without sin - is conceived with Original Sin. It is not something that we have a choice in; it is something that is passed on. It is something that we receive as an inheritance from our first parents. And so it is truly the case that every single person is born into sin because of the disobedience of one.

Where the difference comes is that the obedience of Christ is enough to more than make up for all sin. But that one has to be a choice. In other words, we have no choice with regard to Original Sin, but we have to make a choice with regard to grace. Grace abounds and it is there to make up for all sin, and even more. But it is not simply automatic. It is not like Original Sin, where everybody who is born has it; rather, it is something that we have to make a choice about.

Therefore, the Lord tells us what that is going to look like for us. When we choose Christ, we have to make some adjustments in our lives. He tells us that we have to be like servants awaiting the master's return from a wedding. We do not know when the Master is going to arrive to call each one of us. We do not know when He is going to come back the second time. It seems pretty evident (if we look at it from our perspective now) that He probably did not come in the first or second watch. So we are probably into the third watch by now. It is getting late and the Lord is delayed in coming, if you will, therefore we have to make sure that we are vigilant on His arrival. We have to make sure that we do not say, "Well, since the Master is delayed in His return, then we can eat and drink and abuse the servants (and do all the other things that He talks about in another Gospel) because we do not know where He is. We do not know when He is coming." We were ready if He would have come at a certain time, but maybe the world is not so ready anymore. We need to be very careful that we maintain that vigilance, that we know we are simply waiting for the Master and we need to be prepared for when He comes.

Once we make the choice to say, "Yes, I want to be part of that righteousness of Christ. I want to accept and to receive the grace that He has won for me," it is not enough just to be able to say that once. Once we say that, then we need to live according to that grace. That means to maintain the virtue, to remain vigilant waiting for the Master to return. That is a daily situation - every moment of every day. For us who believe, for those who have made that choice, now we need to live the choice that we have made.

The grace is there and Saint Paul tells us that the grace is there so that we can reign with Him. If we are going to reign with Him, while we share in that reign even in this life, it is ultimately in the next. And the only way that is going to happen is if we remain vigilant. If the Master finds us doing our duty when He returns, if He finds us ready to open the door immediately when He comes and knocks, then we will be blessed. He tells us that He will put on an apron, seat us at table, and proceed to wait on us. That is, to seat us in the heavenly banquet and to take care of everything.

In the meantime, we are His servants. He has given us a job to do and we are expected to do it. If He seems to delay in coming, we still know exactly what our job is and we need to keep doing it. Then, when the Master arrives, if He finds that we have been doing our work, that we are on duty, that we continue to do the work and He finds us doing what we should when He arrives, blessed will those servants be."

-- From a homily by Fr Robert Altier, ocds (23 October 2001)

** Fr Robert Altier is one of the holiest priest I've ever met. He used to be associate pastor at St Agnes Catholic Church in St Paul, Minnesota. I remember many years ago, if you went to Confession to him, you could expect to wait in line an hour, sometimes more, in the middle of the week. His homilies, never prepared in advanced, were always a spiritual treat for hungry souls. Many, many people have benefited from his sound advice, charitable admonitions, and humility.

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