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1st Sunday of Advent – Be Prepared!

1st Sunday of Advent Be Prepared“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come’” (Matthew 24:37-42).
Be prepared. Nearly every young male can give you the source for that citation: the motto of the Boy Scouts, invoked by leaders at the start of every meeting. It wasn’t unusual for the boys to glance around, worrying a little and asking themselves, Prepared for what?
Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder of the Boy Scouts, once explained what he meant by that motto. “Prepared for what?” he said. “Why, for any old thing.” Being stranded in the woods with no matches. Noticing someone drowning in the deep end of a pool. The explicit lesson was that if we took time to prepare for most eventualities, then the future wouldn’t be nearly so haphazard, nor be a cause for dread.
“Advent” means coming, appearance, arrival. In these early days of Advent the focus is on the second coming of Christ, so we begin with eyes on the future, straining to focus on what might be headed this way. This reading is not about the coming of a poor little child; rather, it is about the coming of the end of the world. The imagery is stark, even startling. Two men working in a field. Two women preparing food. Suddenly, in each place, only one is left. Such abruptness is meant to startle us. Our daily actions, those simple pleasures of living—eating, drinking, marrying, as in “the days of Noah”—that make up our everyday lives should never be thought of as comfortably complete.
The liturgical year has changed, but the lesson has not. Jesus tells us over and over to be prepared for the end of this age.
Today’s stark stories tell us that the Church should be a community of preparation, which means we who are members of the Church should be cultivating a different vision of human goals and of the hope for our lives.
– What do you think preparation and watchfulness consist of, and what are we being asked to focus on?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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