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April 2009

Keep awake therefore, for you do not on what day Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42)

Have you noticed that often, rather than live your life, you drag it along while you wait for 'tomorrow', which you hope will bring something 'beautiful'?

Actually a 'beautiful tomorrow' is on its way, but it's not the one you expect.

A divine instinct leads you to look forward to something or someone that can satisfy you. Maybe you're thinking of a coming holiday, or free time, or a special meeting with someone... But when it's all over you're not satisfied, or not fully. And you pick up again the same old routine of an existence lived without conviction, always waiting for something else.

The truth is, that among the many things that make up your life, as for everyone, there's something no one can escape: the face-to-face meeting with the Lord who is coming. This is the 'beautiful tomorrow' you are unconsciously looking for, because you are made for happiness. And only he can give you full happiness.

And Jesus, knowing how you and I search blindly for it, warns us:

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Keep awake. Keep alert. Keep watchful. Because among the many things you can doubt in the world, one thing is certain: some day you will die. For a Christian, this means presenting ourselves before Christ who is coming.

Perhaps you too are like the majority of people who deliberately forget about death. You fear that moment and live as if it didn't exist. With your earthly life, with your rooting yourself in it more and more, you say, "Death frightens me; therefore there is no such thing." Yet that moment will come. Because Christ will definitely come.

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord Is coming.

With these words, Jesus is speaking of his coming on the last day. As he ascended into heaven from among the apostles, so will he return.

But these words also refer to the coming of the Lord at the end of each person's life. After all, when someone dies, it is the end of the world for them.

Since you don't know if Christ will come today, tonight, tomorrow, or in a year or more, you must be vigilant. Exactly like people who keep watch because they know that thieves are coming to rob their house, but they don't know the hour.

And, if Jesus is coming, this life is something that passes. But that does not mean you should undervalue it. On the contrary, you should give it the highest importance. You must prepare yourself for that meeting with him by living a worthy life....

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord Is coming.

You must be vigilant, too, of course. Your life is not merely a peaceful chain of events. It is also a struggle. Your first enemies are a wide variety of temptations, such as those to do with sexuality, those to do with vanity, with attachment to money, with violence.

If you always keep vigilant you won't be taken by surprise.

Those who love are always vigilant. Vigilance is a characteristic of love. When you love someone, your heart always watches and waits for them, and every moment away from them is spent with them in mind.

This is what is done by a loving wife whose husband is away as she goes about her work or prepares something for him: it is all done for him. When he arrives, the thrill of his greeting reflects all the joyful work of the day.

This is what is done by a mother as she rests when caring for a sick child. She sleeps, but her heart wakes.

This is how a person who loves Jesus behaves. Everything is done for him, who is met in the simple expressions of his will moment by moment, and who will be met with great solemnity on the day that he comes.

It was 3rd November 1974. At Santa Maria in southern Brazil a spiritual meeting for two hundred and fifty young people had just ended. Most of them had come from the town of Pelotas.

The first coach left with forty five young people on board. There was much singing, much joy and much love expressed for Jesus. As the journey went on, some girls started to pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, asking Our Lady to help them be faithful to God to the end of their lives.

Then, on a curve, there was a mechanical failure. The coach plunged into a ravine, rolling lengthwise three times as it fell about 50 metres. Six girls died.

One of the survivors said, "I saw death at close quarters, but I wasn't afraid because God was there."

Another girl said, "When I realized I could move, in the midst of the debris, I looked at the star-filled sky and, kneeling among the bodies of my friends, I prayed. God was there with us."

The father of Carmen Regina, one of the girls who died, said that she used to say: "Dying is a beautiful thing, Dad, because you go to be with Jesus."

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

The girls from Pelotas were watching because they were loving, and when the Lord came, they went to meet him with joy.

Chiara Lubich

(First published as the Word of Life for December 1978)

 

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