Sunday, November 27, 2016


November 27, 2016
Cathedral of the Assumption


Stay awake, for you do not know on which day
your Lord will come.
Matthew 24

I’ve been robbed --- six times in fact!  My house was broken into and I was robbed the first time when I lived down in Monticello near Lake Cumberland. They broke down the door and took my stereo and a small office refrigerator.  I was taken for several thousand dollars by a carpet dealer friend from Lebanon who skipped town. I’ve been robbed three times at two houses on Eastern Parkway. The third time I was robbed was when I lived near the intersection of Norris and Eastern Parkway. They broke through the front door in broad day light and took my big expensive stereo system that I had saved and saved to buy. The third time I was robbed was when I lived at the Cathedral. They broke into my room and took some expensive camera equipment that a cousin had given me as a gift and a couple of bottles of liquor that I had gotten for Christmas. I was robbed twice at my last house, down the street from where I live now. The first time, they took my favorite black leather jacket. The last time they took about $125.00 worth of change that I had thrown into a bedroom drawer. Even Archbishop Kelly laughed at how little I had that they would want to steal.

The worst thing about all the robberies was not what they took, nearly as much as what it cost to replace the windows and  fix the doors and the fact that strangers entered my house, going through everything I own! It leaves you with a terrible feeling of being unsafe and violated.  The one thing that runs through all six robberies was the fact that I was not paying close attention. In Monticello, I had no security system and very flimsy locks. With the carpet man, I trusted too much in too good of a deal. At the first Eastern Parkway break-in, I had left home for a couple of days in a hurry. I left the drapes open on the big picture window facing Eastern Parkway with the lights on. You could see everything from the street. When I was broken into at the Cathedral, I had left my apartment unlocked, even through the rectory’s outside doors were locked. Both times when I robbed at my last house, I had left the back gate unlocked which is usually locked. I even left a shovel on the patio for them to use to break the window and a lawn chair for them to climb on, right under the window.  In all six cases, I had let my guard down for a minute and when I let my guard down for a minute, the robbers took advantage of my not being alert, in very much the same way the terrorists took advantage of our lax airport security and intelligence systems on 9-11.

                          Stay awake, for you do not know when your Lord will come.

There is one MAJOR difference between being robbed and killed if we are not alert and being alert because we do not know when Jesus will come again. When it comes to the return of Jesus, “we wait in joyful hope” for that coming.  The real tragedy here is missing out on the great things God has in store for those who love him, not because we might be punished and tortured for all eternity by a God who wants to get even with us for not paying attention to Him. The tragedy of not being alert is more like the tragedy of being given a free $50 million winning lotto ticket, only to realize, when it’s too late, that we lost it or threw it away. When it comes to Jesus’ return, we are being offered an immensely more valuable gift than that! It would indeed be tragic to throw it all away by not paying attention and being alert.  God does not threaten us with disaster, but encourages us to prepare for the glory to come. We would not want to miss this event!

We are called, not to try to predict the time, but to live in a state of readiness. When we get into trying to predict when Jesus will come again, we assume that being alert and awake is a burdensome and tiresome nuisance and therefore we avoided  as long as possible!  There are those in every generation who would engage in the practice of trying to predict when the world will and  when Jesus will return. They claim to have secret knowledge and special insights into Scripture. Of the millions who have tried it, not one has been right. Jesus told us not to listen to them, not to follow them. The challenge is not to try to pinpoint the day or the hour so as to GET ready, but to live every moment and to BE ready, no matter when it might come! 

The point here is that being ready for the Lord’s coming, living alert and awake is a good way to live. It gives life purpose, meaning, impetus, force and dignity.  Look at all the suffering we create by NOT paying attention and being alert. (1) I cannot tell you how many married people I have talked to over the years who do not pay attention to their marriages. They start dozing off as soon as the honeymoon is over. I don’t know how many of them, after being served divorce papers, tell me they didn’t see it coming. They were asleep.  (2) Parents who are too busy and too distracted to be involved in their kids lives, are often shocked when they are called into police stations, principals’ offices and even morgues for not paying attention. (3) Women who do not go for regular checkups are often shocked by the reality of breast cancer, sometimes when it is too late! (4) Priests who do not pray regularly and who do not keep their ministry skills honed, often wake up one day bitter, angry and ineffective, wondering what went wrong. (5) Students who goof off, party constantly and do shoddy work, bomb out at test time, wasting their parents money and the opportunity for a good education, something many young adults in poorer countries would die for! (6) People who engage in risky promiscuous sex, even once, are often forced to face the harsh reality of serious diseases! Even one careless encounter can change lives forever! I can introduce you to a few of them! I have done funerals for some of them!

Trying to fix a marriage when it is too late, trying to salvage a child when they have been neglected for years, trying to stop a cancer after it has invaded many organs, trying to regain one’s enthusiasms for ministry after its gone or trying to cram for a test at the last minute, playing Russian roulette with sex, trying to get ready to meet God when you have never given God the time of day your whole life long, is no way to live! Paying attention, being alert and being ready is the answer to living this life, as well as preparing for the life to come. 

As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let us not live unconsciously, half asleep and distracted. Let us be alive and alert, realizing that “eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it even dawned on human beings, the great things that God has in store for those who love him.”  Having the world’s largest winning POWERBALL ticket and losing it, pales in comparison to losing out on the wonderful things God has waiting for us!     

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