We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: Jesus is coming – look busy! We usually chuckle when we see the sticker, but only because our chuckle masks some of our fears. We know that Jesus will return, and we know that we must account for our lives – that alone can make us afraid. We also know that we tend to fill our lives with stuff: work, leisure, TV, and general business. Though our busyness is rarely about living a Christ-like life, we somehow fool ourselves and hope to fool God into thinking our busyness is meaningful.
That is why our Gospel lesson today is so scary. Jesus tells us to keep awake, to be ready, to be at work – as awake as a man who knows a thief is coming to his house and stands ready to protect his family. Jesus promises the hour of his return is unknown and so this constant vigilance is required. And yet, we have no idea how to sustain that kind of vigilance and stamina.
Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, seemed to know how to live the life of vigilance with ease. Born in 602, he became a bishop at age 66 – when most of us are readying for retirement. A learned monk residing in Rome, Theodore was called to England at a time of plague and strife between the rival Celtic and Rome customs. But he managed to enter this place, establishing a school where both Irish and English Churches trained; he visited all of England, fostering unity; and he honored traditions of both groups. He worked tirelessly to organize the Church and died at age 88.
What I like about Theodore’s story is that he shows us not that we should be crazed, vigilant Christians, but that God can use us at any stage of life when we are willing. Amen.