To Truly Prepare
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
ROM 12: 1-2
This was the second reading from last week's liturgy. We ended up attending the noon mass at Christ the Good Shepard. Before leaving the house, we were unaware of the fact that the noon time slot is a Spanish celebration. It didn't matter. Spanish or English, the mass progression of events is ever recognizable. I had access to Sunday's readings from my iPhone. And as I read over the liturgy of the word, I was struck by this particular reading which was perfectly strung between the first reading and the gospel.
So much is at stake these days. According to USA Today, by July of this year the U.S. had experienced 49 separate weather, climate and flood disasters (Rice, 2017). This stat does not take into account Harvey, Irma, the wildfires in Montana and the western coast, nor the earthquake that just happened this week in Mexico.
The imagery of a "living sacrifice" is a bold reminder of what each of us are called to be. We ask not to see, we ask not to know, we ask simply to be used. He calls each of us to serve in the best way we are able, all the while knowing and tending to our personal needs. It begins in serving our own families and moving out into the community at large. In sacrifice, we are constantly shedding away fear and uncertainty in the wake of renewal and opportunity. We must trust in the present moment, and love deeply. It takes faith to trust completely. It takes courage to love deeply.
As C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." At this point if you are sitting around still dwelling on your imperfections, your comments/newsfeed, updating your fall wardrobe, or thinking about Christmas (I've read your posts), look around you! Do not conform to this proud and selfish age. There are countless people who need you. Maybe your far away enough from the fray that the best you can do is simply donate. So donate! Phone a friend. Serve your community. Invite someone over for dinner you haven't seen in a while. Get to know your neighbors directly (as in without social media). Pray for someone.
We are in deeply unsettling times. Questions like: Where is God?, What is the meaning behind this suffering?, What will happen next?, Will my family be spared? are becoming all the more conscious.
I find comfort in the Word. I take refuge in my faith. You could honestly sum up Christianity with the two sentences quoted above. It's important to recognize that this earthly life we all enjoy is only temporary. Preparing yourself, doesn't solely mean preparing your home and it's not limited to accumulating facts and figures. Preparing yourself begins with preparing your soul. It means uniting your will with His will, each and every day. How do you approach the day? Are you honestly ready to meet your maker?