Luke 12: 42-48 has much in common with the Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent. It also reminds me of growing up in the mid-sixties. There was a year when everyone except dad moved to Pittsburgh. Dad was not able to leave his job in Fairless Hills, near Philadelphia, so mother moved with the kids to her old home town of Vandergrift. We now lived 320 miles from dad. One Friday evening mom was late getting home from her job. Dad was scheduled to drive up from Fairless Hills.
Being the leader, I decided the house must look immaculate when dad arrived, so I pushed my three siblings to the breaking point, getting the house ready. I of course had the hardest job, so felt free to help myself to dad’s beer, chips and the like. I even had friends over to help drink, and push my siblings around. As evening became later, my friends and I got drunk. As we passed out, my siblings trashed the house. They looked out the window, gawking at every car going by, trying to listen for the sounds of dad’s American Rambler as it came down the road.
Luke 12 ends, “That servant knowing his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will… shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
“Beware your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life. That day catch you by surprise like a trap and assault everyone. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the imminent tribulations and stand before the Son of Man.”
My mistake was the same as Eve’s in Genesis 3. Eve answers the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden… God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it…” Genesis 2 states, “The NAME, God ordered Adam, ‘You are free to eat from the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of the satisfying and the rotten. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it…”
The address is to Adam only, not Eve. God tells Adam not to eat of it. When Eve speaks to the snake, she adds to the command. Eve is not guilty of rebellion, but over-piety. I was not guilty of rebellion against our parents, but of being overly scrupulous, at the expense of others.
We learn a couple of important lessons from these readings. The first is that it is OK to look out that window, hoping each passing car is Our Father coming from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ. It is a way of showing our adoration of The Father. God likes that, so long as we are aware there are ten thousand cars that look and sound just like ours in the night. About the younger siblings, many today are like them, looking to Revelation for the sound of that car and the look of those headlights.God will be happy to find his children eager to see him
God calls us to balancing our piety and industry with love of others. That day comes against all, so we must be mindful of others’ suffering. God will be far happier to find his children happily doing their share to keep the house in order. This includes making all happy.Remember, God looks forward to seeing his children in the window, looking for his second coming, but he also wants his house, our planet ready for his arrival.
Leadership is a curse, not a blessing. In Book 19 of The City of God, Augustine tells us to take take leadership positions with angst and what Kierkegaard called dread. The higher we are up the food chain, the more God requires of us.