Keep awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
That’s another way of saying, Be ready. Any day now the Bridegroom is coming again. So keep your hearts open, and your lamps burning.
When you think about it, a lamp is an amazing vessel. Made to hold a saving piece of the sun before you when night falls hard. Lamplight is a human endeavor, more ancient than the flashlight or the cellphone with its luminous rectangular face illuminating our faces. Moonlight reminds you the dark has always had a face. It’s God’s gift to us. Lamplight, though, is how we came up with a way to see when the moon and the stars weren’t bright enough. Lamplight is how we overcame our fear of the dark.
I have a lamp here. A friend gave it to to me. It’s an ancient little light found in southern Syria in an early Christian cemetery where it had been placed on All Saints Day. It was and is a sign of light in the darkness. A sign of readiness, too. A sign of human beings tending the flame of Christian hope.
It humbles me to imagine people tending lamps like this in days that were darker than our own. And I mean this literally, not figuratively, because this lamp was made before the invention of electricity, before we thought we could manage the mysteries of life. It humbles me to imagine this lamp set out in vigil among the dead like a candlelight proposal. Like communion with Jesus the Bridegroom. Like love you can’t explain. Like something miraculous. Read more