19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 12:32-48
“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
(Based on the commentary on Matthew xxiv by Cornelius a’ Lapide)
Some in the early Church considered the thief to be Satan. Thus St. Hilary says that the parable of the thief “shows that the devil is very watchful to take from us our goods, and to plot against the houses of our souls, that he may dig through them whilst we are careless, and given up to the sleep of our own devices; and he would pierce through them with the darts of enticements. It behooves us, therefore, to be prepared, because ignorance of the day sharpens the intense solicitude of expectation ever suspended.” However, this does not seem to coincide with what follows, since our Savior compares his coming to that of the thief. Therefore, it is better to say that the thief is a metaphor for Christ in his coming.
Moreover, the parable of the thief can refer to both the particular and the final judgment. For Christ compares himself to a thief insofar as his coming is unexpected and unannounced – “on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour” – but even if this refers primarily to the Parousia, it also can be understood of a single man’s death, which is often unexpected.
How strange is this parable – that the Savior and Sovereign Lord should compare himself to the thief! The thief comes to take what is not his, but all things belong to Christ for through him and for him all things were made. When he comes, he takes what is his own by right and by conquest!
Again the thief comes as one unwanted and hateful, but our Savior should be the desire of our hearts – to him the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! In this respect also, Christ ought not to be received as a thief.
However, in one respect Christ is very much like a thief in his coming – just as the thief comes secretly and suddenly, so too will our Savior be in the day of his coming. As lightning flashes and lights up the sky from the east to the west so will our Savior be. In the twinkling of the eye all will be changed! How great and terrible that Day, but for his holy ones it will be the day of vindication!
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!