How can we be prepared? Examples from society help to show how we are prepared in other ways. The motto of the Boy Scouts is "be prepared". Businesses should always be prepared for an audit, so they keep good books. Some people learn self-defense techniques in being prepared for an attack on the streets. These are examples of being prepared for something bad. But, people are prepared for good things, too! Engaged couples prepare for marriage, and men and women prepare for religious and consecrated life by entering seminaries, convents, and religious communities.
Two metaphors stand out about Christ's 2nd coming / judgment. First, it’s like a pop quiz…the most dreaded part of school. You never know when it will happen so you always need to know your stuff. Second, judgment will be like a blind date….you don’t know how it will go. If you've ever been on a blind date as I have (you see how well that turned out for me), going into it you know the person vaguely through others, or through their Facebook profile, or in talking to them. But, you don't know how it will go when you meet the person. With Jesus, we know him through others, or through his Gospel profile, or in talking to Him in prayer. But, we know Him now as Savior. In the 1st coming, He came as Savior; in the 2nd coming, He will come as Judge. We don't know how it will go in person with Him as Judge.
Some of the language He uses in today's Gospel gives us an indication. He says that some will be "taken" and some will be "left". He references those on the ark with Noah. He doesn't say they were sinning, just that they were doing ordinary things like "eating and drinking". But, the point is that they didn't give a thought about God, or judgment, or an impending disaster. Their sin was carelessness; they didn't care about anything other than worldly or secular desires. St. Paul describes these as "desires of the flesh" and tells us to make no provision for them. The prophet Isaiah urged people to "climb the mountain of the Lord". It's like the bumper sticker that we've seen: "this car climbed Mount Washington". That's great, but it should be accompanied by one that says, "this soul is climbing the mountain of the Lord". We should be concerned with the things of God as well as the things of the world.
Three ways to be prepared for the coming of Christ / judgment. First, choose what is good in your daily life. Christ references people who were taken while doing good in ordinary ways - out in the field and grinding at the mill. It helps to be surrounded by good people in order to choose the good. St Don Bosco once said that "one who associates with those who are good with be with them in Heaven". Second, live in a state of Grace. "Cast off the deeds of darkness - drunkenness, promiscuity, lust" - as St Paul writes, with the help of Confession. "Put on the Lord Jesus" in the Eucharist. Going to Confession regularly and receiving the Eucharist at Mass every Sunday are the best ways to be prepared. Third, always be ready. I celebrated a funeral Mass last Saturday for the mother of a friend of mine. She and her husband of 51 years were walking across the street when a car hit them. She died, and her husband just came out of a coma. I said at the funeral that we always have to be ready because we never know when our time will come. Always be ready with God as I have been saying. Always be ready with family. Tell your family regularly how you feel about them...and that you love them. Reconcile with them if you need. Always be ready with life. Live each day as if it's your last. It's such a cliche, but it really seems that's what Christ is saying. People who try to live this way find the great joys of life.
When we are prepared and are ready to go at any time, we are filled with tremendous peace. And, we experience the great joys of life. We can expect that peace and joy to continue on our blind date with Christ the Judge and forever in His Kingdom.