Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks” (Lk 12: 35-36).
Jesus is emphasizing that as disciples we need to be ready for his coming, yes for when he comes again at the end of time, but more importantly, to be prepared for his coming each day in the midst of our lives. If we do not prepare to encounter him daily, the likelihood of us being prepared for his coming again, and only the Father knows the time or the hour, will be slimmer.
To plan means we outline all that needs to be done down to the last detail. This can be an advantage especially when we are dealing with blueprints for a home or building. By having detailed plans we can be sure we have the proper materials and tools, an estimated budget, hire the help needed to accomplish the goal. There are many areas in our life where planning is an advantage. Planning our spiritual life is important, deciding when and how we are to pray, meditate, study, engage in Bible and spiritual reading and/or watching, scheduling which service we are going to attend, establishing a routine of spiritual direction, time for fellowship or small groups. These are all plusses to planning.
The challenge with planning is when we become too radically attached to the plan and we leave no room for the Holy Spirit, no awareness for the knock at the door, because we are so focused on finishing the plan. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are on the horizon. How many times have we experienced planning a dinner and guests, and spent more time adhering to the plan and its execution, so much so that we miss engaging with those we are working so hard to provide hospitality for?
Preparing is akin to planning, in that we are ready but flexible to be open to other options not governed by our mind alone. Jesus calls us to be ready, to be prepared to receive him at any moment. As St. Oscar Romero wrote, “It would be beautiful if people saw that their flourishing and the attainment of their highest ideals are based on their ability to give themselves to others.” Are we prepared to encounter and be present to a classmate, colleague, family member, or neighbor who asks for help at an inopportune time, the homeless person in need, the undocumented immigrant, migrant, or refugee looking for safety and security, the unborn striving to actualize his or her potential, the coworker that has not been the most pleasant, the person that we perceive as somehow different from us – who we keep at arm’s length?
Have we said yes to or refused these encounters? After some time of reflection, can we better prepare ourselves to be more open to encountering those we meet today as human beings, as brothers and sisters, created in the image and likeness of God? Are we willing to see and serve Jesus, who is present in those we encounter, for: “whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
Photo: Tabernacle and Sanctuary Lamp in the small chapel at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center. Let us prepare our hearts and minds to receive Jesus in the consecrated host and so to be strengthened to see and serve him in those we encounter today.
Rothrock, Brad. 30 Days with Oscar Romero. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2016