Beloved brothers and sisters,
Be Always Prepared
Be always prepared. In the middle of the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year, note, not at the end of the year, the church tells us to be always ready—reminding us of the necessity of vigilance in the Christian life. Be always prepared for Jesus. When I look at the state of my preparedness in different facets of life, whether secular or sacred, I find myself wanting. I am not proud of it, but I got hit by a few home truths each time in the recent past when I thoroughly examined my conscience and got a revelation that I was not prepared. Yet, Jesus, who called us to follow him, has given us enough time and room to get ready for what could be his surprise or unexpected visit and examination of how we have lived our life as followers of the way. We must keep working at it; we must constantly be on the watch.
The excerpt from the book of Wisdom read at Mass this Sunday gives an account of the people of Israel keeping vigil (Wisdom 18:7). Israelites were vigilant in secretly keeping the Passover feast as the angel of death was visiting the Egyptians. The vigilance in worship through the night of darkness is an example for us to imitate. We must always focus on the Lord through the tragedies and the vagaries of life. In the letter to Hebrews, we read about our ancestors in faith who prepared patiently for the fulfillment of God's promise. Abraham, for example, lived a heroic life of faithful waiting on God's promises throughout his life (Hebrew 11: 9). In the Gospel according to Luke (12: 35,40), Jesus instructs his disciples to "be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
In my ministry to the sick and dying, I have had privileged opportunities to prepare souls for the end of their earthly life. Therefore, it is always my prayer that as the dying face Jesus in their last days, they do so with a clear conscience that they have used their entire lifetime and gifts bestowed on them to prepare for the divine encounter. If they're short of expectations, I always assure them of God's mercy if they ask for it. So likewise, we must live our faith wholly in preparation for the face-to-face meeting with Jesus on the last day of our life. So much grace has been given to help us prepare adequately for the last day. But are we using those graces and talents effectively? This Sunday is another opportunity for us to make a sincere examination of conscience regarding our state of preparedness for the Lord. In doing so, we will always be prepared.
Please Note: This is a week of feasts. May I suggest you prepare to join me in celebrating the feast of St. Dominic tomorrow, August 8? As a member of the Order of Preachers, known as Dominicans, I cherish celebrating my religious order's founder feast day. I plan to join my brothers in Maryland for community mass in the afternoon and a fraternal soiree.
And may I add, be prepared for Friday. Something special will be remembered and celebrated on a joyful Friday! Lol!
Fr. Bernard, OP