Are Your Lamps Lit?


• By means of the parable the gospel today exhorts us to be vigilant.

• Luke 12, 35: Exhortation to be vigilant, watchful. “Be ready and have your belts done up and your lamps lit”. To gird oneself meant to take a cloth or a cord and put it around the robe. To be girded meant to be ready, prepared for immediate action. Before the flight from Egypt, at the moment of celebrating the Passover, the Israelites had to gird themselves, that is be prepared, ready to be able to leave immediately (EX 12,11). When someone goes to work, to fight or to execute a task he girds himself (Ct 3, 8). In the letter of Paul to the Ephesians he describes the armour of God and he says that your waist must be girded with the waist of truth (Ep 6, 14). The lamps should be lit, because to watch is the task to be carried out during the day as well as during the night. Without light one cannot go in the darkness of the night.

• Luke 12, 36: A parable.    In order to explain what it means to be girded, Jesus tells a brief parable. “Be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks”. The task of waiting for the arrival of the master demands constant and permanent vigilance, especially during the night, because one does not know at what time the master will return. The employee has to be always attentive and vigilant.

• Luke 12, 37: Promise of happiness. “Blessed those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; In truth I tell you, he will do up his belt, sit them down at table and wait on them”. Here in this promise of happiness, things turn up side down; the master becomes the employee and begins to serve the employee who becomes the master. At the Last Supper Jesus recalls that even though he is Lord and Master, he becomes the servant of all (Jn 13, 4-17).The happiness promised has something to do with the future, with happiness at the end of time, and opposed to what Jesus promised in the other parable when he said: “Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, come and have your meal at once? Would he be not more likely to say, ‘Get my supper ready; fasten your belt and wait on me while I eat and drink. You yourself can eat and drink afterwards? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you, when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘we are useless servants; we have done no more than our duty” (Lk 17, 7-10).

• Luke 12, 38: He repeats the promise of happ8iness. “And if he comes at midnight, or at dawn, and finds those servants ready, blessed are they!” He repeats the promise of happiness which requires total vigilance. The master could return at midnight, at three o’clock in the morning, or at any other moment. The employee must be girded, ready to be able to do his work immediately.

Personal questions

• We are employees of God. We should be girded, ready, attentive and vigilant twenty-four hours a day. Do you succeed to do this? How do you do it?

• The promise of future happiness is the opposite of the present. What does this reveal to us of the goodness of God for us, for me?

Concluding prayer

I am listening. What is God’s message?

Yahweh’s message is peace for his people.

His saving help is near for those who fear him,

his glory will dwell in our land. (Ps 85,8-9)

This homily was produced by the Carmelites at