Serving as the Food Service Director of The Evergreens, a 120 bed nursing facility in High Point, North Carolina, for four years, I always dreaded as time drew near for the kitchen to be inspected by the Health Department and for the entire facility to be inspected by the Joint Commission for our accreditation. Certainly we tried to be “inspection ready” all the time, but especially as we knew that the time for a visit was drawing near we were extra diligent to make certain that food was stored and handled properly and that progress notes on patients/residents were duly recorded in their charts. We never knew the time when they were coming and as soon as they walked through the doors, word spread and any glaring infractions noted at the last minute were rectified, if possible. Men and women in uniform have also striven to be ready for surprise inspections.
In today’s lesson from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells a parable about an absent householder. A man goes on a journey, leaves his house and puts the slaves in charge while instructing the doorkeeper to keep alert and keep watch. Jesus says that only the Father knows when the absent householder (God’s son Jesus) will be sent again. The Son does not know when the Father will send Him. The angels don’t know when He will be dispatched. Only the Father knows.
God could send Him to arrive at evening, at midnight, at cock crow or at dawn. Like the inspectors, He will come quickly and without warning. Consequently, the slaves and the doorkeeper are commissioned to keep awake lest they fall asleep. We too do not know the hour or the day of Christ’s return and the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. We are to keep awake by following Jesus’ teachings and striving to be His faithful and obedient disciples.
Blessed Lord, teach us always to be watchful and ready for Your coming so that Your return is a good surprise for us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.