“Be prepared.” That may be the motto of the Boy Scouts, but it’s also a fitting one for each and every Christian as we begin this season of Advent. At first, the readings for this week may seem out of place as we usually associate Advent with preparing for the birth of Christ at Christmas. But when we consider that “advent” simply means the coming or arrival of something extremely important, it makes sense to likewise see this time as one of preparation for the return of the Lord. The Catechism explains it well: “…by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.”1
As Jesus describes the so-called end times in this week’s Gospel, we can easily become fixated on the signs themselves – strange weather patterns or other cataclysmic events – and on trying to predict when these things will occur. But rather than worrying about what’s going on around us, Jesus wants us to take notice of what’s going on inside of us, in our hearts and minds. Advent is a beautiful time to reflect on how we are living our lives. Understanding the human heart so well, Jesus warns us not to be seduced by the temptations of this world. For instance, have we forgotten about God and lost sight of the goal of heaven by living for the moment and getting caught up in worldly pleasures? Or, conversely, are we weighed down with worry and anxiety by an inordinate focus on the “cares of this life” rather than entrusting our lives to Him?
Life can feel heavy at times, but we are not alone. If we follow the path of Christ, He promises to lighten our load, to walk along beside us. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:29-30). Being prepared is about being strong in mind, body, and spirit to withstand the trials and suffering that we will inevitably face, so that one day before God we may hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Mt 25:21).
– Kelley Holy
1 CCC, 524.