Preparation and Vigilance

23 October 2007. Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 12, 35-38 Preparation and Vigilance

The Gospel speaks about preparedness. Jesus said, “Gird your loins.” The long robes of the Jewish clothing was a hindrance to work. So when a man has to prepare for work, he gathers his robes under his girdle so he will be free do his job. Jesus also said, “Light your lamps.” In the east, the lamp was a floating wick on a bowl of oil. The wick has to be trimmed occasionally so that the light won’t go out. These two images remind us of preparation and vigilance.

There are different definitions to the word, prepare. First, it means that we should be ready beforehand for some purpose, use or activity. It means that all the details have been planned in advance. For example, to prepare food for dinner means to have in mind the menu and the ingredients needed to prepare each dish.

To prepare therefore is to discover what resources we have. We may begin with a list of things we are good at: our talents, skills and abilities. We may also put in our strengths and our achievements. We may put in the things that are still being developed or discovered. We may add our expertise and our intellectual abilities. We may also say that we have excellent social skills and graces. The items on this list constitute the gifts we can use at the service of God; and therefore to be prepared means to be continually open to new skills and abilities.

Second, it means that we should put our minds in a proper state as being prepared to listen or to take the exams. A large part of getting ready is psychological. Actors internalize their roles; they begin to focus their minds on their characters to be convincing on stage.

The same way with our lives. Is our life going somewhere? Do we have a clear idea where we would lead our lives? Do we share the same values and ideals with our friends, our partners in life, or our organizations?

Third, it means that we should put things together as preparing a report or getting ready for a career. If you were asked how you would like other people to remember you by, how would you answer them with one simple statement? Is there an underlying theme that connects the things we do? Are we able to gather ourselves into wholeness when we are shattered by rejection, anger, loneliness or confusion?

Finally, vigilance adds another dimension. We cannot control our lives: we do not know our death. Some die early; some live to a ripe old age. We cannot control opportunities: they come unexpectedly like a job offer or a scholarship opening. Often, we lose the opportunity because we are not prepared: our resumes are not impressive because we have been too easy on our studies.

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