Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!”
Mk 13: 34-37
One beautiful June morning several years ago a Brother who had survived a major heart attack some years before was sitting at his desk working, when he suddenly slumped over and ceased breathing. By the time the medical personnel arrived he was in full cardiac arrest and had died. A friend of the Community’s, when informed of his death, made a comment to the effect: “What a good way to die, doing his work.” This comment came to mind while reading today’s gospel: “He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.”
In a brief autobiographical sketch, Brother Theodore James Ryken wrote of his conversion:
at the age of nineteen, after powerfully being put in my place, I turned toward God, fell in love, and put myself in His service… I became strongly inclined to works of penance and to prayer, avoided the company of worldly companions, (and) read good books which slowly and gradually came more and more into my hands. I finally felt an inclination to a solitary, penitential, and contemplative life.
It is impossible to speak about the “love of God” without understanding that love of God is a focused direction of our will, a focus toward carrying out our “own work,” that is, the generous outflowing into the world of the expression of the task or assignment for which we have been created. In the Gospel of John, Jesus, at the end of his life, proclaims: “I have finished the work you have given me to do” (John 17:4). As we begin this Advent Season in which we “keep watch” for the Lord’s arrival, may we pray for the courage, determination, and love to keep at the work we have been given to do until the end.
The following is from Jan van Ruusbroec’s The Sparkling Stone:
The common man who is sent by God down from these transcendent heights, into the world, is full of truth and rich in all virtues. He seeks nothing for himself but only the honor of the One who sent him, and therefore he is just and true in all his actions. He has a rich, mild foundation which is grounded in the wealth of God, and therefore he must always flow into all those who need him, for the living fountain of the Holy Spirit is his wealth which cannot be exhausted. He is a living, willing instrument of God with which God does what he wants, the way he wants. He does not claim this for himself, but gives the honor to God. Therefore, he remains willing and ready to do all that God commands. He is strong and courageous to suffer and bear all that God allows to befall him.
Jan van Ruusbroec, The Sparkling Stone