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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Are You Prepared?

Are We Prepared?
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wis 18:6-9, Heb 11: 1-2, 8-19, Lk 12: 35-40

Today’s Gospel speaks of being prepared, of not knowing at what hour Christ may return. It speaks of being vigilant upon his arrival and not being caught asleep. This is a great opportunity to reflect upon our lives and to evaluate if we are prepared and living a vigilant life.

A few months ago 4 of my brothers and I set a goal to climb ½ dome in YosemiteNone of us were in the best of shape, but we knew if we were to be successful we had better begin to lose some weight and train for the goal of surviving the mountain climb. I’m not sure if it was fear that motivated us, but we all trained well and completed the task fairly easily. Prior to the climb, we developed and maintained a regime of exercise, eating well, and kept life in balance.

However, once the climb was over and we had achieved the goal; our structured and disciplined lifestyle began to fade. Looking back now I can see that without a goal in sight, maintaining a disciplined life can be difficult.

As Christians, our goal is to journey through life with our ultimate destination being eternal life in heaven. But a goal without a definitive target date can be somewhat difficult and troubling. When we were planning our mountain climb, we all knew it was to occur on June 12thWe could count the days leading up to that day.

But our heavenly goal isn’t as concrete as our goals made here on earth. Like it or not, the heavenly goal for some might just occur this week, next year, or for some 80 years from now. Without having a specific target date to focus on, I regret to say that we have the tendency to lose that sense of urgency. So how does one train for the goal of heaven, how does one prepare themselves?

Great question!

I can’t help but think that is has a lot to do with living a disciplined life. As Christians, Are we not called disciples? Disciplined in the sense of continually forming, fostering, and maintain virtue in our lives.
 As I was reflecting on the cardinal and theological virtues, it became apparent that it really comes down to our own personal philosophy of being. It has a lot to do with our understanding of our purpose here on earth.

The concept of being a “Giver” or a “Taker.” We all know people who probably fit that label of being a “Taker.” Maybe that person might just be me at times. A “Taker” is a person who’s primary concern is usually themselves. They are self-centered in their thoughts and make decisions in relation to how it might or might not affect them. Discipline, charity, sacrifice, and loving service are usually foreign concepts to them.

A “Given” on the other hand is just the opposite. We probably all know some who could fit this label as well. They almost always think of others before themselves. They care very little about self-serving concepts, and find themselves feeling content and fulfilled by meeting the needs and wants of others.

When I first sat down to write this homily it didn’t take long and I had a homily that listed all the virtues and systematically broke them down comparing our lives to the ideals. But after a few days of reflecting on the finished product it became clear that it was missing something and I felt the need to scrap it. I needed some help, some divine intervention if the message I was going to share with you today might be considered inspired.

I began to think; What did the prophets do when they wanted to hear and feel God in their lives. What did Jesus do? Many of them would set out to climb a mountain. The concept of prayer and self-reflection while ascending toward heaven had allowed so many to gain heavenly insights and consolations.

So….Don’t laugh, but last Sunday after Mass I drove to Mount Lassen and began to climb. As I was climbing to the peak it became clear to me just how important retreats are for all of us. Spiritual Retreats. The world we live in moves at a more rapid pace than ever in history. Technology is changing daily and communication is instant. Distractions are everywhere and our senses are stimulated almost from the time we wake up, to the time we lay to rest at night. When does a person stop to re-evaluate their lives, to look at what goals have been established, and just how prepared they are for that goal of eternal life.

Clergy in our diocese at required to participate at least annually in a personal retreat just for that fact. To gain a better perspective on their current lives, to humbly self-reflect and evaluate what is good, and what needs some attention. They also need to be spiritually nourished. Many of us take vacations, some more than others, but how many of us make at least one spiritual retreat a year. How many of us take the time, asking for God to help us prepare by self-reflection, humble self-evaluation, adjusting the priority of our goals, and establishing a plan that will foster spiritual growth.

The gospel today states: 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 must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of man will come.

It doesn’t say if he will come. It says, the Son of man will come.

Are you prepared for him?

We are so blessed in the parish for retreat opportunities.

·     We live less that an hour away from Vina, the Trappist monastery where many clergy and laity chose to partake in a spiritual retreat.

·     There are many women’s retreats sponsored and offered by our diocese.

·     Some enjoy pilgrimages like the one planned through our parish for Medugorje this September.

·     When have a Men’s group that sponsors: Spiritual Retreats “In-Motion” while backpacking, kayaking, and other activities.

·     Or you can design your own, centered on your own unique interests and needs.

The main idea is that you take the time and make it a priority to prepare yourself. This can only be done by periodically pulling away from your daily routines, asking for God’s assistance, critically evaluating your life, and making some changes.

None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, we all suffer from fading fervor at times, and we can be caught spiritually sleeping. We are not immune to the temptations and the trapping of the world, but we must first identify them within ourselves before any change can be made. Our eternal salvation is too important of a goal to forget about, and much too important to not be on the top of our list of desired achievements.

A retreat can be a day, a week, or a month.

It might just give you the answers you have been looking for.

What is stopping you from setting aside some time just for you and God?

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