The Danger of Complacency

Luke 12: 35-38
Eph 2: 12-22 / Ps 85: 9-14

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant upon his arrival.
(Luke 12:37)

Many a proud man has fallen
Because of smug complacency.
The Good News that Christ has given
We must spread with all urgency.

(Jesus said,) “Gird your loins and light your lamps, and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding banquet, ready to open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant upon his arrival. Amen, I tell you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table, and he will proceed to wait on them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.” (Luke 12:35-38)

Reflection

The disciples of Jesus must have been perplexed by this parable. Why would the master take on the role of his servants, waiting on them just because they had prepared for his arrival? But Jesus always practiced what He preached. He demonstrated this at the Last Supper, when He did exactly what the master in His parable had done for his servants. He “girded” a towel around His waist, then proceeded to wash the feet of his apostles before the meal (Jn.13:4-5). None of them at the time could understand what their Master was doing, but later on they realized that Jesus was showing them His example of humility in service. Furthermore, it was also a sign of cleansing, His great sacrifice of washing away our sins. This was His final sign of love before His death.

In today’s Gospel, our Lord’s message for us is to be always vigilant in service – to “gird your loins and light your lamps,” because we do not know when the opportunity to do good, or the time to counter temptations and avoid evil would arise. Or even when our final day of reckoning might suddenly be upon us. As Christ’s leaders we cannot take matters of faith for granted. We must “be sober and alert; our opponent, the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (2 Pet.5:8). St. Peter also said, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (2 Pet.5:5-6)

In our mission to serve the Lord, today’s Gospel reminds us that we must be aware of the common pitfall of becoming smug or contented with what we have accomplished, or as some leaders put it, resting on our spiritual laurels. This is dangerous, because as long as we are living in this world, we are constantly in the midst of a spiritual warfare, and our greatest enemy is complacency. The journey is treacherous and uncertain, and we must always be “on our toes” for any eventuality. Fortunately, we have the Word of God that lights our lamps, and gives us strength and courage. “The path of the upright avoids misfortune; he who pays attention to his way safeguards his life. Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov.16:17-18)

We must never be proud of our own abilities or good works. Instead, let us humbly submit to the Lord’s bidding, to serve Him in every occasion. Let us always be prepared to anticipate His coming, ready to open the door of our hearts to those in need, whether of material help, prayers, or the Good News of the Gospel. This is the best way to be prepared.

Dear God, we read St. Paul say in the first reading, “in Jesus we are being built up together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph.2:22). Disturb our hearts, Lord, should we become comfortable in our community, for the work of building Your kingdom, and winning souls in the marketplace require vigilance and hard work. Grant us the grace to persevere in our service. This we pray for the glory of Your name. Amen.

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