18th Sunday in Ordinary Time–Like a Thief

Have you ever had your house broken into?  Chances are that you haven’t.  I have and I can tell you it’s not fun.  In our case the thief came in the middle of the afternoon.  Jan left the house every day at a certain time to pick the kids up from school.  This guy must have been watching because he broke in, right through the front door, just after she had left.

The stuff he stole didn’t have a lot of financial value, but it did have sentimental value; things like class rings that can never be replaced.  As it happened our oldest son got off school early that day and surprised the thief.  He ran out the back door and got away.

I have to tell you about this master thief.  He was surprised by another victim just a couple of days later.  This time he runs off and leaves his car behind.  Not wanting to go back to the scene of the crime, he had his girlfriend call the police and report the car stolen.  When the cops showed up to take her statement, this genius was sitting at the kitchen table going through his loot.  They arrested him but he had already gotten rid of all our stuff.  All we got back was one earring.

We can laugh about it now, but it could have been a really serious situation.  Our modern-day John Dillinger was a drug addict and instead of running, he could just as easily turned on our son with a gun or a knife.  Thanks be to God that no one was hurt.  “Stuff” can be replaced.  Human life can’t.

The point is, as Jesus points out in today’s Gospel, if we had known the thief was coming, we would have been prepared.  He would have never gotten into the house.

We all do things to protect our homes and our valuables.  We lock the doors and windows.  We don’t leave valuables lying around in plain sight.  We do the same with our cars.  Hopefully we keep anything worth stealing in the trunk or locked in the glove compartment.  Ladies, I hope you keep your purse close to you, especially when you’re in a crowd.  It’s just good sense to take the proper precautions to secure our belongings, even though we know that we’ll probably never be robbed.

Of course, Jesus’ story has nothing to do with being the victim of a robbery.  The point lies in His last statement.  “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  Notice the words that He uses.  Not “the Son of Man might come”.  THE SON OF MAN WILL COME.  We’re all going to die, people.  We don’t know how.  We don’t know when.  But, we WILL die.

Think about the tragic school bus accident that happened this week.  Two young lives were snuffed out in an instant.  Jessica Brinker was just 15.  Not even old enough to drive.  She and her fellow high school band members were on their way to Six Flags.  It was an annual trip for the band, something they worked to raise money for during the school year.  Surely Jessica left home that morning looking forward to all the rides, and the food, and the fun that she expected to enjoy that day. Being 15, there’s a good chance that some boy was in her thoughts.  She was just a kid!   She was looking forward to the day and many, many more days to come.

Daniel Schatz was 19.  He was driving his pickup truck on Highway 44 when the truck in front of him stopped for a traffic back up.  He hit the truck which may or may not have been a serious accident, but the school bus slammed into him and crushed his truck, then a second school bus rear-ended the first.  That’s when Jessica was killed.  I don’t know where Daniel was going.  He may have been going to work, maybe he was even going to Six Flags himself.  But we can be pretty sure that when he got into his truck and headed onto the highway, his death was the farthest thing from his mind.

There’s so much that we don’t understand about life and death.  There were fifty five people on the two buses.  One was killed.  I have a friend whose daughter was on that first bus.  She wasn’t even hurt.

There were hundreds of other vehicles on that part of Highway 44.  Why was Daniel Schatz driving the one that got between the school bus and the truck?  We just don’t know.  What we do know is that one day God will call us home.

My question for you is this:   “Do you take precautions to save your soul as seriously as you take precautions to protect your stuff?”  Some day somebody may break into your house.  Some day somebody may break into your car?  If they do, you have insurance to restore your lost possessions.

What about your soul?  Obviously you go to weekly mass.  If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here.  But what else do you do?  Do you go to confession regularly, making sure you’re in a state of grace every single day, just in case?  Do you do your best to avoid sin?  Do you read religious books, listen to Catholic radio, or watch EWTN?  When was the last time you sat down in a quiet spot and read the Bible?  How’s your prayer life?

I’m not trying to scare anybody………Well, maybe I am.  I consider everyone here to be my friend.  If I knew that you were about to get on a plane and I knew the plane had a bad engine, I’d do everything in my power to keep you from getting on.  I’d grab you and throw you on the ground if I had to.  DON’T GET ON THAT PLANE!!!

There is no plane, and I can’t predict the future except to know that we’re all going to leave this world, some of us sooner rather than later.  As an ordained minister of the Church, but more importantly as your friend, it’s my job, it’s my solemn duty to do everything I can to protect your eternal life.

If I have to scare you, or embarrass you, or offend you to make my point, then so be it.  I think too many of us think we’ve got it made.  Maybe we think there is no damnation.  Maybe we think we’re all going to heaven.  If you think that, you’re playing a very dangerous game and the stakes are higher than we can even imagine.

All I’m asking you to do is to be ready. It’s really not that hard.   “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

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