The 4th grade teacher gathered her class in a circle in the middle of the room. In their midst she placed an old-fashioned alarm clock with a face and bells. She then proceeded to make a deal with the class. If they could sit silent in the circle for 30 minutes, until the alarm rang, she would give them a free day and provide them with pizza, drinks, and candy. The students eagerly agreed. What the students didn't know was that outside the classroom door stood her husband. He was dressed in a clown suit and was carrying a few dozen balloons in one hand and in the other two leashes attached to two golden retrievers.
After ten minutes had passed the teacher opened the door and invited the clown and all his trappings into the room. The circle held fast for a little while. The children looked at the dogs and then back to the clock slowly ticking away. The pressure was too much and finally one student stood up and began playing with the dogs. The clown handed the child a balloon or two and began talking to the student. The other students stood fast but when they saw how much fun their classmate was having with the clown and the puppies their resolve began to fade. There were only ten minutes left until the alarm bell would ring. Another student slowly rose and then ran to the dogs and the clown and the three played and laughed. This was too much for the remainder of the circle. Almost instantly, the remaining students jumped up and ran to the clown.
The students laughed and played. They bounced their balloons off the ceiling and wrestled with the dogs. At the height of their rambunctious play the alarm bell rang and the room stood silent except for that lone little clock sitting in the middle of the floor on the other side of the room ringing. At that moment the clown took hold of the dogs and quickly vanished out of the classroom. The students learned a valuable lesson that day.
Today Jesus once again reminds us to be ready. He tells us that He will be returning and we will be blessed if we are prepared and in fact looking for His return. Often the things of this world distract us from our good intention to stand ready. In our hearts we want to be ready but then the world enters the room with passing joys. So far, if you are reading this, you, like me, have been lucky. The alarm hasn't sounded while we were concerned with the trappings of this life and we have been able to return to our watch. Nothing is more heartbreaking than the thought of having that bell ring while we are doing something other than God's will. Our loss would be far greater than a free day or pizza.
Lord Jesus, help me to be vigilant and give me the grace and strength to remain vigilant even when the slow ticking of the clock seems endless.
FROM THE SAINTS - "Lord, by the words of consecration the substance of the bread and wine is converted into the substance of your Body and Blood. All powerful Lord, say over me the word which will change me into You." - Saint Anthony Mary Claret