Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent
Ten years ago, perhaps fueled by the Y2K hysteria, the book “The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide was published. Some of its chapters were, How to Escape Quicksand, How to Fend Off a Shark, How to Jump from a Car, How to Perform an Emergency Tracheotomy and How to Land a Plane. While some of these topics pique my interest, I do not see myself informing myself so as to be prepared for these situations. Being vigilant at all times is not one of my innate qualities. In my creativity I find I am more spontaneous. I am also not one that thinks in terms of being prepared for, “the worst case ” being a hopeful person, doomsday scenarios just don’t appeal to me. That being said, Advent, and its call to vigilance and preparation, is a favorite time of year for me.
The cycle of celebrating salvation history begins anew this week with the advent of the church year. The four Sundays of preparation for the Christmas feast mirror our lives, in which the preparation is not just for a single day on the calendar, but for the coming of the Lord at the end of time. Advent not only looks back at the events leading to the birth of Christ, it looks forward to the final fulfillment of God’s plan and increases our awareness of his presence today. We know not when the Lord will appear in glory but we do know that God will fulfill his promises. We know that we are in God’s presence here and now, Advent challenges us to awaken ourselves to that presence here and now and in the days to come.
In the Gospel today Jesus calls us to not only be vigilant but to pray for the strength we need to face the tribulations of our lives. Our faith is tested by the challenges of life. It becomes harder to believe in God’s providence when we endure pain and experience events that cause us to doubt. Advent is a new time of prayer. We pray not only that God’s Kingdom will come but that we might have the strength we need to be persistent in our faith and in our quest to know Jesus Christ.
My prayer for all of us is that we dedicate ourselves to these days of Advent and not get caught up in the holiday preparation hysteria. Let us find time for necessary peace and quiet, a peaceful quiet that will assist us in our vigilance and in our trust. The days of Advent are not days to prepare for a worst-case scenario, they are days to prepare for the best scenario that we could imagine. We prepare ourselves to recognize our God who comes to save us and invite us to share in the building of his Kingdom.