A Call to be Vigilant

Luke 21: 34-36
Dn 7:15-27 / Dn 3

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.
(Luke 21:36)

Let no carousing or drunkenness,
Or a life full of anxieties
Lead to spiritual weaknesses;
Instead be vigilant in holiness.

Jesus said to his disciples:“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21: 34-36)

Reflection

Jesus knows our weaknesses. In today’s Gospel, He urges us to be vigilant in order to persevere till the end in affirming true life and denying the false life of material pleasures and anxieties. The Lord knew then as He does now that it is not an easy matter to be a Christian. At this point of His life, He Himself was going to face His impending persecution and death at the hands of the Jewish religious authorities. The time had come when He would show His followers how to obey the will of the Father until the very end in spite of tremendous injustice and suffering.

It is during this season of “carousing and drunkenness” that we must step back and reflect on the message of our Lord in today’s Gospel. The circumstances that existed just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 were probably very similar to those that we are experiencing today. It was a time of affluence, when people were more concerned with worldly pursuits, and those who were drawn to the faith by the early Church were being severely persecuted. In such a state, apathy and apostasy had become commonplace. So, to be “vigilant at all times … and have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent…” let us keep in mind the great tsunami tragedy that shook the world by surprise in December 26, 2004. Just a day after Christmas, those who perished (almost 300,000 people) were on a holiday vacation in the various resorts along the coastal regions of East Asia. Not a care in the world, things of God, death, or destruction were farthest from their minds.

Our human nature makes us vulnerable to various influences around us. We are caught between the two horns of either “carousing and drunkenness”, or “the anxieties of daily life”. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have the tendency to fall into bad habits that the devil constantly foists on us. We all need a regular dose of prayers, meditative reading of Scriptures, good deeds, and interaction with our religious community in order to be always aware of God’s call and vigilant against the devil’s tricks. We can never trust our own human nature alone, however noble or unselfish our inclinations. We need God’s grace to fortify us at all times. We need the presence of the Holy Spirit within us just as He is in our midst whenever we gather to praise and worship Him.

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, let us temper our celebrations with prayer, meditation of God’s Word, and charity towards the poor, which never fails to make this season more meaningful. These are what will put us in good standing before the Son of Man when we come before Him in judgment.

Father God, on this eve of Advent, please let Your Holy Spirit keep us vigilant and prayerful, well prepared for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for it is during times of celebration that we become complacent and vulnerable to the temptation of the evil one. Help us, Father, to be worthy of His coming. Amen.

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