12 April, Wednesday – Not knowing the Day or Hour

12 April 2017

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Isaiah 50:4-9

The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

My vindicator is here at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.

The Lord is coming to my help,
who will dare to condemn me?

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Matthew 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.”’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.

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The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”

As I reflect on Jesus’s words: “My appointed time draws near”, I realize that it is something that He has said from the beginning of His public ministry. We often hear Jesus telling us to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2) or “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 4:17). Indeed, Jesus has long been telling telling us that the time for His Passion is near, for the Passion can also be seen as the fulfilment of scripture, as Jesus, through His death and resurrection, becomes for us, the gateway into heaven.

Yet we also know that these are words have often fallen upon deaf ears, both during Jesus’s public ministry and in our time today. Indeed, it is often easy to procrastinate when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. How often have we put off our nightly prayers because we are tired and worn out from the day? How often have we told ourselves: “It’s okay, prayer can wait. It’s okay, God will also wait. I am just so tired and busy”? It is most certainly the case for me, as I wrestle with the day to day hustle and bustle of life in academia.

But we also know from scripture that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Ths 5:2). Taking our cue from the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, we do not want to be found asleep when the Lord comes to find us. Similarly, in the parable of the ten virgins, we do not want to be like the five unfortunate virgins who did not have oil for the lamp and were hence locked out of the wedding banquet. In that parable, Jesus has told us to “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Mt 25: 13).

In the modern parlance of today, we should strive to be ‘safe rather than sorry’. Indeed, there is much safety to be found in the love and protection of the Lord. Our safehaven is in the kingdom of heaven, in the presence of our Lord. We should therefore keep praying and hoping, so that we will be ready when our Lord comes for each of us, rather than sorry and left out of the kingdom, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 13:42). In a way, our not knowing the day nor hour is a bit of a blessing. For this keeps our hearts ever ready and focused on the kingdom of heaven.

(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: As we await the coming of Your Kingdom Lord, keep us ever steadfast in our faith and prayers, so that at Your appointed time, we will not be found wanting. 

Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for His loving patience in always tolerating and forgiving our human waywardness.

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