Lord, why do you let us wander and harden our hearts, so that we fear you not? …Would that you might meet us doing right! (Isaiah 63:17, 64:4)
Seems as though the Lord Jesus used the image of the householder traveling abroad, and leaving his servants in charge–He used this image over and over again.
Two weeks ago, we encountered it in the Parable of the Talents: the master left the country, and gave his servants money to invest. Same image, or one very similar, in the Parable of the Unforgiving Steward, and the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, and of the Wicked Tenants, and of the Master’s Return from a Wedding, and of the Faithful vs. the Unfaithful Servant.
And at Holy Mass this Sunday, in chapter 13 of St. Mark’s gospel: A man travels abroad. Leaves home. Places his servants in charge, each with his own work. And the gatekeeper must watch for the master’s return.
So: Here we find ourselves, together on the earth, with control over things that do not properly belong to us. By right, the goods we have control over, they belong to our divine Master, the Creator. He has entrusted them to us, for temporary service. We exercise power over things in this world–but not ultimate power. A day will come when the true owner, the rightful master of all that we hold in trust–He will appear. He will expect to find things in a certain state.
And if they are not? If He arrives after midnight, and we lay asleep, with empty beer cans scattered all over the floor, and the tv still blaring, and we haven’t made sure the children brushed their teeth, and there are dirty dishes in the sink. If the master comes and finds a mess? As they say, there will be hell to pay. In this case, literally.
So the prayer of Isaiah suits us perfectly. Lord, please don’t let us harden our hearts! Keep them soft and supple, responsive to your influence. Keep us humble and dutiful. So that you might find us doing right, when you return in glory.