The first generations of Christians quickly saw the need to ask themselves a decisive question. The coming of the Risen Christ was being delayed much more than they had thought at the beginning. The wait was getting long. How could they keep their hope alive? How would they avoid falling victims to frustration, weariness or discouragement?
We find in the Gospels various exhortations, parables and calls that only have one objective: to keep responsibility alive in Christian communities. One of the best-known calls says: Gird your loins and light your lamps. After twenty centuries of Christianity, what meaning can these words have for us?
The two images are very expressive. They indicate the attitude that servants should have as they await the return of their master during the night. They are to open the door of the house just as soon as the master knocks. They have to be there with their loins girt, that is, with their sleeves rolled up to be able to move and act fast. They need to be there with their lamps lit, so that the house may be lit up and they may stay awake.
These words of Jesus are also a call today to live lucidly and responsibly, without falling into passivity or lethargy. In the history of the Church, there are times when it is night. It is not the time, however, to turn off the lights and go to sleep. It is the time to be responsive, to awaken our faith and keep walking toward the future, even in an old and tired Church.
One of the most serious obstacles in the way of pushing the transformation that the Church needs today is the widespread passivity of Christians. Unfortunately, for many centuries now we have taught them, above all, to be submissive and passive. Even today, it sometimes seems that we do not need them to think, to make projections for the future and to promote new ways of being faithful to Jesus.
That is why we need to value, take care of, and be so thankful for the awakening of a new conscience in many laity who today live out lucidly and responsibly their adherence to Christ and their membership in the Church. Without doubt, this is one of the more valuable fruits of Vatican II, the first council that concerned itself directly and explicitly with them.
These believers can be today the leaven of renewal in our parishes and communities that has, as its basis, the faithful following of Jesus. They are the greatest potential for Christianity. We need them more than ever to build a Church that is open to the problems of today’s world and is close to the men and women of today.
August 7, 2016
19 Sunday O.T. (C)
Luke 12, 32-48