The Master’s Return – An Allegory by Mark Swarbrick
Rushing to the window in the front of the living room, the dog nosed the curtain to the side and peered through the glass. He could see the front yard and driveway, but what he hoped to see was not there. What he so earnestly desired had not yet happened. His master had not returned.
“You certainly are a fool,” said the cat, as he lazily stretched on his pillow next to the couch.
“Why do you say that?” answered the dog.
“You know, without me telling you, why I say this. You are perfectly aware we do not know when the master shall return. It is one of those things we are not meant to know.
“But I long to see him,” said the dog. “I love him and miss him so. He said he would come for me so I can’t help but eagerly expect him at any moment.”
“Oh, yes, I know.” The cat stood and stretched again and picked at the carpet with his claws. “I see it always, you rushing to the window at all hours of the day. At every sound – the slam of the neighbor’s car door, the mailman, a passing car – you rush to look. You always think you are hearing or seeing a sign of his return. If only you could see, as I do, how you demean yourself by leaping up and running to that silly window. You really should behave with more sophistication. Those of us who have looked into these matters know it is not possible to know when he shall return. There are smarter philosophers than you and I who can’t agree on such things, so it is pointless to consider them. I don’t understand why you bother at all to keep watch for him.
“But don’t you remember what he told us before he left? He promised when he returned, we were going on a wonderful trip to a place of forests, meadows, lakes and streams where we can run and frolic in flowery meadows where the butterflies dance. And he will be with us!”
“Oh yes. I do recall something about it.” The cat opened his mouth wide and yawned. “Of course, no one knows what it will actually be like. And as I have already said, we cannot know when.”
“It seems to me you don’t miss him much,” said the dog. “I know I do. So how can I help but keep watch for him? And he told us to eagerly expect his return. I agree we don’t know exactly when he shall come. But I have noted certain things from the past. For example, when he came before, there were signs of his coming. You know those church bells that ring every day at noon? Well, he always comes after that. And the train that goes by at four PM every day, well, his return comes after that. Both of those things have already happened. This tells me the time is much closer than it was.”
“You haven’t heard a thing I said.” The cat’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “You force me to repeat myself, though I don’t know why I bother. Please listen this time. He told us we cannot know the moment of his return.”
“No, of course not. We can’t know the exact moment, so that’s why I keep watch from him. Don’t you remember he told us to keep watch and to be ready? He said we would leave immediately when he comes, that we should already be prepared. I will be ready to leave with him as soon as he comes. I long for him and can’t wait to leave with him on the wonderful trip he has planned. You don’t want to be left behind, do you?”
“I don’t concern myself with such things.” The cat sneezed and shook his head. “When you get older and wiser, as you see I am, you will realize there is absolutely nothing better than a nap on a soft pillow in front of the fireplace. Chasing butterflies in a meadow – if there is such a place – is not my cup of tea. True, I have enjoyed toying with an injured mouse from time-to-time in my younger years, but I have grown out of that. You really should talk with some of my friends. Sophisticated Sophia, for instance. She is the Siamese cat next door. She could teach you a thing or two. We understand the master has his business and we have ours and never the twain shall meet. Our world does not include superimposing our suppositions upon his activities. Sophia has studied philosophy, you know. I do think she could dissuade you of your immature preconceptions.”
“Oh cat, I know you are so much smarter than me. I would not pretend to have your level of education. All I know is, I love him and long for his return, and when I hear a car door slam, I can’t help but hope it might be him returning for me.” Suddenly the dog’s ears popped up. He cocked his head and listened, then rushing to the window, he peered outside.
“It’s the mailman!” exclaimed the dog.
“I suppose you think it is a sign,” sighed the cat.
“Yes, of course! When he came before, it was after the mailman had come. I know we dogs are not as wise as you cats, but the older dogs I have spoken with have said the return is after the coming of the mailman.”
“Oh yes, yes, I know all about it. There is a prophecy about that. But people said all this about him coming soon when I was just a kitten. It never happened. I am not so gullible these days. If you want to talk prophecy, I can tell you there are many things to be fulfilled before he can come back. It is still a long way off.”
“Are you sure about that? What if you have misinterpreted things. You said it yourself, his coming will be at a time we do not expect.”
“Ha! You prove my point,” said the cat. You expect him every moment, so he can’t possibly be coming in your lifetime!”
“I don’t think that’s what he meant.”
“You don’t think, period,” said the cat.
“You know,” the dog replied, “this is a long trip our master has prepared for us. I believe the house will be sold and new owners may come who don’t care for you. You could be out on the street, cold and hungry. Who will feed you? How will you survive? Aren’t you worried?”
“Please! Don’t be so melodramatic.” The cat leaped onto the back of the couch and walked across it with an air of superiority. “In one ear, and out the other,” yawned the cat. “Why do I waste my time with you? You dogs take everything so literally. Don’t you know that so much of what the master said is nuanced with symbolism? Why don’t you get it? It must be because you lack education. That’s why you don’t understand. You probably don’t even know what allegory is.”
“I know,” said the dog. “that you run in more cultured circles than I do. But I simply believe what he said and I just don’t want to miss his arrival. I worry for you, cat. I’m afraid you will be caught napping and be left behind. You could miss out on being with the master.”
“The master, the master, the master! One would think nothing else matters.”
“He is everything!” barked the dog.
“You are an irritation,” hissed the cat. “You needn’t worry about me. If he loves me so much, he will find me and take me along. I’m not worried. I believe I shall go take a nap in the back yard. Perhaps Sophia will be out.” The cat walked delicately through the kitchen out the doggie door to the back yard.
The dog sadly watched the cat depart. Suddenly there was the sound of a car entering the driveway and then came the slamming of a car door. The dog was already at the window, tail wagging. The front door burst open and the dog leaped to his master, lavishing him with happy barks and kisses as his master put his arms around him.
They went outside and the master opened the car door and the dog leaped into the car and together they left on the long-awaited trip. It all happened so quickly.
Just then the cat re-entered the house. “Dog? Sophia is out back. You should seriously consider speaking with her. Perhaps she can talk some sense into you. Dog? Where are you, dog?”
The cat jumped on the back of the chair and looked out the window just in time to see the master and the dog disappear down the street.
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Luke 12:40)
And the prize is…for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Look, I am coming soon! (Revelation 22:7)
When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:33)
…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52)
Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?” (2 Peter 3:3-4)
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)
But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (Malachi 4:2)
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. (Daniel 12:1)
You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober…For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9)
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