In the Eucharistic readings for the Feast of St. Ambrose (today, December 7), we hear Christ instructing his disciples to “Be dressed for action, and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks” (Luke 12:35). This echoes a familiar refrain from the past few days and weeks. Keep awake! Be ready! You do not know the hour when the master will return!
In this season, it can sometimes seem like there are too many things to get ready for. As Christmas approaches, many experience the pressure of putting on the perfect holiday gathering for family or friends, or of getting just the right gifts for everyone. Others feel the seasonal weight of lengthening nights, or an impending loneliness as they look towards a Christmas apart from their loved ones. Students may be busy preparing for final exams, or looking forward to the college application season or the job market, with all the uncertainty these provide. Add to that the news of a world so baffling that it’s anybody’s guess how best to be prepared for what may come… It adds up. It takes its toll.
And yet here we are, at the beginning of Advent, called by Christ to keep awake, to be ready, to be dressed for action. With all the hubbub and bustle of our lives in December, how on earth are we supposed to do that?
Another of the readings appointed for today’s feast gives us an answer:
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
do not stray, or else you may fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
Wait, trust, hope. To be prepared for Christ is to trust God, to hear the Good News that in God we will find joy and mercy. When the world expects us to be always busy, to be always on the go, it’s happy news indeed that in Christ, to be ready may simply mean to pause, to wait, to understand that our hope is in God’s saving grace and not in our own hectic preparations. Have your lamps lit, yes, but remember who it is who gives us the fuel for those lamps.
Post by Jett McAllister