Lamps lit for Jesus

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

At the end of school what do you want to do?
- I want to do my Senior Certificate.
After your Senior Certificate what do you want to do?
 - I want to go to college.
After college what do you want to do?
- I want to get a job.
Then what do you want to do?
- I want to make big money.
What do you want to do after making money?
- I want to build a big house.
After that what do you intend to do?
- I want to get married.
What will you do after getting married?
- I will have a family.
What will you do after having a family?
- I will retire.
What do you want to do after you retire?
- I want to take a rest.
What will you do after taking a rest?
- I don’t know.
Will you die?
- Oh yes, I will die too.

In that conversation the student answering those questions had to be reminded that he would die. His main preoccupation was with all the things he would do during life. He didn’t seem to spare a thought for the fact that one day he will have to depart this life. We could say he was living for the present, with no thought about the present life disappearing. Many people would admit that they were so busy in the early part of their lives that they had not much time for God. They were busy building up their careers or busy with so many other things that their spiritual lives were not high in their list of priorities. But as time went by they began to realize more and more that life here is passing, that we are only passing through, and that the purpose of life is, as we learned in school, to know, love and serve God. That is why many people become more prayerful and spiritual as they grow older. They can see that life is short and goes by very quickly. One person said to me that when he passed the age of fifty he felt life was going by so quickly that there were two Christmases every year! We all know the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.” (Ex 20:2-3) For many people it takes half a lifetime to see that they had in fact false gods and God was losing out. I will never forget an anonymous note left on my desk at the break during one of my Scripture courses. In it the person said he/she had been wasting life before attending my course. We are familiar with the saying, “Life begins at forty.” Our spiritual life does not begin at forty since we were baptized as infants and we are sons and daughters of God since baptism. Let us not waste our lives by losing out on the most important of all, friendship with God. Jesus said in the Gospel today,

“See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:35-37)

Let us not take half a lifetime to get dressed for action with our lamps lit. Let us not waste life. Let us wait for the master to return from the wedding feast and be ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.

It is not popular in this country now to be dressed for Jesus and with our lamps lit for Jesus. It is not popular to wait for Jesus, to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. It is almost as if the country has become like Peter in the courtyard of the high priest on the night Jesus was captured. Peter denied he knew Jesus and went so far as to curse. Is Ireland denying that it knows Jesus? Our spiritual life does not begin at forty since we were baptized as infants and we are sons and daughters of God since baptism. Let us not waste our lives by losing out on the most important of all, friendship with God. Let us not take half a lifetime before we live the first commandment. Jesus said in the Gospel today,

“See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:35-37)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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