Are We Ever Really Ready?

Are We Ever Really Ready?

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Here is a link to today’s readings.

ThinkstockPhotos-512822038When I was a young boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old, I remember talking with my mother as she prepared a meal. She mentioned that Jesus would come back again. Now I knew about Jesus already… how he healed people and performed miracles. I knew that he died on a cross and rose from the dead. I knew he was in Heaven. But this new piece of information caught my attention like nothing else! “Really?!” I asked my mother. “When is he coming back?” She told me it could be any day. And suddenly, I was a boy filled with the same eschatological excitement that St. Paul must have felt. He’s coming back any day now!

The readings at this time of year remind us that Jesus will come again, but they don’t necessarily convey the same excitement that I felt as a young child. Often, they have a darker note to them. They contain what theologian Johann Baptist Metz called an “apocalyptic goad.” We are warned to be ready! Jesus says to his disciples, “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.” He’s right, of course: if we knew the hour the thief planned to break in, we would be prepared for it. But Jesus tells us to be prepared even though he doesn’t tell us the hour. He wants us to be prepared always, like a homeowner who never leaves the house. Who among us can do that? I worry that I won’t be prepared.

ThinkstockPhotos-478540336Of course, we have no idea what it will be like when this decisive moment in history takes place. So let’s consider other events in our lives to help us assess the situation. Think about a time when something big broke into the ordinary routine of your life. Were you prepared for it? I think about when I became seriously ill with Legionnaire’s Disease. It stopped me in my tracks. Other than having medical insurance, I wasn’t prepared. I dealt with the emergency as just that. When I look at events that have happened in my family’s and my friends’ lives, I see the same pattern. My sister-in-law lost her pregnancy. A close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. My older brother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A friend’s son was hit with divorce papers and a custody battle. Another good friend lost her father to suicide. Was anyone prepared for these life changing events? Would you be?

To approximate how well we might be prepared for the hour of Jesus’ second coming, let’s look at how well the Apostles were prepared when his “hour” arrived for his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Peter, James, and John were three of the inner circle of Jesus’ Apostles, and they were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane where he asked them to stay awake with him and pray. Yet, they fell asleep! Jesus responded mercifully, recognizing that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

This gives me great consolation. Most likely, those who are here when Christ returns will not be ready for such a monumental event. It will hit them like a divorce, a diagnosis, or a death; it will find them sleeping like the Apostles; it will catch them off guard like a thief in the night. All of this would be terrible news if we were Pelagians who thought everything depended upon us. Fortunately, we rely on grace. We know that the hour of Christ’s return has been calibrated perfectly by the Father to maximize the salvific work (2 Peter 3:9). We don’t know when Christ is coming, but God does—and God isn’t playing a “gotcha” game. God’s plan is to make even time our ally in the work ThinkstockPhotos-525668633of salvation. As we journey through time, we had better heed Jesus’ warning and do our best to be prepared by living a moral life, converting more and more to the Gospel. Still, Jesus is merciful. We won’t be fully prepared on our own. We may fall asleep. But we have nothing to fear as long as we value the right things. Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

So, where is our treasure? Where are our hearts?

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