1.Wis 18:6-9
Heb11:1-2, 8-19
Luke 12:32-48

                     " LET US  ALWAYS BE AWAKE"

Sometimes in the past in Tanzania we had a Lotto game popularly known as Jackpot Bingo, this is a game that made some to become rich. Out of that game, we are told a story of a happy family. One of their desire and happiness was to win the Jackpot Bingo worth of 20 Million Tsh. Thus in that happy family the Father would buy some tickets and give them to his children, and some were given to the 95- year-old grandfather.

In the next raffle when the winning numbers were published, one of the ticket numbers that belonged to that family won the Jackpot Bingo worth 20 Million shillings. Thanks be to God it was the ticket of the grandfather. They were afraid to disclose the news to the grandfather since he had weak heart and would have died because of excitement. They thought of  a way of breaking the news. They invited a young pastor from the parish, to instruct the grandfather on how or what to do with that big amount of money. The young pastor did not have second thoughts accepting the invitation, thinking he would get a share out of that amount.

The pastor went to visit the house and later on talked with the grandfather. They talked many issues. When the pastor was about to leave, he said to an old man, " By the way, my grandfather, supposing you won the Jackpot Bingo lotto worth of 20 Million shillings what would you do with the money?"

" What, 20 Millions?" an old man replied, that is the big amount pastor." " well," the grandfather posed for a moment then smiled. " Pastor, here is what I' will do. I will give 10 Million shillings to my children and grand children and donate 10 Million shillings to you. Being caught an aware the pastor was so overjoyed, thus he collapsed and died of heart attack! ( To think it was the old man who had a weak heart!)

Actually this is the funny story showing how unexpected death can happen. On this 19th Sunday of the liturgical calendar of the church, the Lord reminds us to be " wide- awake" or prepared." Be on guard, " Jesus says, " the Son of Man will come when you least expect Him."( v.40). In the gospel St. Luke gives us three parables which highlight the wisdom of preparedness. In the first parable  we hear about a group of servants awaiting their master's  return from marriage feast ( vv.35-38). In accordance with the Jewish culture, Marriage lasts for several hours, excluding the late hours, so the master's return often delayed. However, the servants must keep their lamps light, ready at all times to receive him( v.35). Their master who will take their role and serve them will reward such vigilant servants.

In the second parable we see the continuation of the idea of preparedness ( vv.39-40), but now the householder must be extra-vigilant to prevent the thief from plundering his house. The last ( vv42-48) is about faithful and unfaithful servants. They are classified based on their response to assigned responsibilities: Those who wisely and faithfully fulfill their tasks(vv42-43) and those who foolishly exploit their assigned tasks(v.450). The former are rewarded and the master punishes the latter.

How are we prepared to meet Christ when he comes? the manner is to keep Jesus' teaching constantly before our eyes? This can also be cited from the scriptures more especially in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping, he warned them to " watch and pray" ( Mark 14:38). He could just as easily have said, " Watch, that is pray." For it is our prayerful remembrance of God's presence among us and of the promise of the Kingdom that will protect us from the fatal distractions that lead us to live by the world's standards and to be found unprepared when the Lord comes for us.

Let us also look on the theme of the servants. As we await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ we are invited to have a servant's heart. How can we really know that we have the heart of a servant? Jesus said: ' you can tell what they are by what they do," ( Mt 7:16). There is a book titled, The purpose of driven life whose author is Rick Warren(pp.257-264) mentioned six things that describe the real servants of God and these are summarized in one word which is, ANSWER. So when you go home after this Eucharistic celebration please bring with you this word, ANSWER as your guide to do your tasks as good and faithful servants do what's needed, even when it's inconvenient

The first is Available to service. According to Rick Warren, real servants make themselves available to serve others in need. To be a servant is not to fulfill the duty and then the business is over. Servants are ready to serve whenever they are needed to do so. If we serve when it's convenient for us, then we are not real servants. Real servant do what is needed, even when it's inconvenient. Are we available to God anytime? As servants we don't choose when and where to serve. God's agenda will be our priorities.

The second quality of real servants is Never postpone to do their best. Real servants do their best with what they have, be in terms of material resources or spiritual help. In his book, the purpose of driven life, Rick Warren continues to say that servants don't make excuses, procrastinate or wait for better circumstances, servants never say: " One of these days," or "When the time is right." They just do what needs to be done. Likewise, God expects us to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

The third is Silent worker. Real servants are faithful to their ministry. Servants don't  promote or call attention to themselves. It is also for us, instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, we "put on the apron of humility, to serve one another,"( 1Pet5:5). Real servants never serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One, God.

We are invited to be faithful to the life and words of Jesus as we await the end time, His second coming. Despite criticisms, rejection, pain and suffering, let us remain faithful to the love of the Father as Jesus did. Let us fulfill the mission entrusted to us, that is to proclaim God's reign to all. God loves faithfulness and rewards those who are faithful to Him. What is faithfulness? It means keeping one word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a character trait of God and one that he expects of us.

The fourth is Workaholic. Real servants are faithful to their ministry. Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises and complete their commitments. They don't leave their job half undone and they don't quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable.

The fifth is that, he/she has Equal dedication to every task. Real servants do every task with equal dedication. Whatever they do, servants do it with the undivided hearts no matter how small they are or they may be. Jesus is a good example for that for he specialized in menial tasks that everyone else tried to avoid:  Washing feet, helping children, fixing breakfast and serving lepers. Nothing was beneath Him because He came to serve. And I will add from somebody who said: " Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty." Thus let us not look for great tasks to do for God. Let us do the not-so-great stuff and God will assign us whatever he wants us to do.

The six and the last one is Response to the needs of others. Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on their way to help others. Once they see a need, they grab the moment to meet it. When God puts someone in need right in front of us, He is giving us the opportunity to grow to servant hood. Let us never tell our neighbors to wait until tomorrow if we can help them now. Let also imitate and live what John Wesley's motto, " Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." This is greatness. Let us also remember that even the smallest service is noticed by God and will be rewarded. Let us also have the words of Jesus in our hearts; " If as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, you will be surely rewarded," ( Mt 10:42)

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Chapisha Maoni