Most people nowadays have been on an aeroplane.
Whether the plane is a jumbo jet or a considerably smaller domestic plane used for travel within a country from city to city there is a routine that doesn’t change.
Before the flight starts a flight attendant will say something like this: ‘We would like your attention for a few moments while we show you some of the safety features of this aircraft.’
We are shown how to fasten our seatbelts. We are told the number and location of the emergency exits. We are told that in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will be lowered in front of us from a panel in the ceiling. We are told that under the seat there is a life jacket for use in the event of having to ditch into the sea.
The idea behind all this is to help passengers to prepare for the unexpected.
This Sunday’s Gospel ( Lk. 12: 32- 48), has the same feel about it, “be dressed for action and have your lamp lit.” (v 35).
Jesus is telling the first disciples, and indeed ourselves, to be prepared for the unexpected.
Jesus encourages us to be like servants waiting for their master’s return. And since the servant does not when the master will return vigilance, and constant preparedness is the appropriate course to take.
There is a story told of an old monk who one day was sweeping the kitchen floor. Someone asked him what he would do if he was told that within the hour he would die.
The old monk replied: “I would go on sweeping the kitchen floor.”
The flight attendant has two words of advice that may well be the most helpful of all. Firstly, ‘if you are a regular flyer, we ask that you pay attention.’
Secondly, “We’ll be taking off momentarily, so please make sure your carry-on baggage is stowed securely.”
They might well be the most important pieces of advice for our journey.