Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel can be a bit jarring but, for those who have been reading the reflections this week, you were likely ready for it: Jesus is reminding us of how important it is to be prepared to encounter God, to have that long view in mind. While He is certainly speaking about the Second Coming, what can we glean from His message pertaining to our daily efforts to prepare for the reception of the Eucharist? There are two that are clear: preparedness and detachment.
Jesus contrasts Noah and Lot with everyone else who, focusing on their earthly life, were completely unprepared for God’s arrival into the world and, because of their shortsightedness, they perished whereas Noah and Lot lived. How often do we arrive at Mass at the absolute last second, though we could have arrived earlier? In other words, how prepared are we, spiritually, when Mass begins? Granted, some of our lives—especially the lives of parents with young children—cannot easily accommodate an early arrival. But if it is at all possible, why not try—whether by arriving early or preparing at home before leaving—to ready yourself for encountering the Lord? Quiet yourself, pay attention to the ways you have encountered Him in the last day or week, so that when you do come to Mass you are focused on the eternal and can more fully realize the life that is given you from the altar.
Detachment, too, is an important message in today’s Gospel: can you leave the world behind while you are at Mass? There is hardly a more frustrating distraction than a cell phone ringing or even vibrating; can you leave your phone not merely in “silent mode”, but in your car? When we are at Mass, we want to receive only one call, and that is the call of Christ. If you wear a watch, put it in your pocket so you are not tempted to time the homily or see how much time remains until the big game begins. Pick up your bulletin after Mass, rather than before, so that you aren’t tempted to distract yourself with it later. Have you considered bringing a small notebook and to take notes during the homily, jotting down things to think about on the way home, or later in the week? Find little ways to be as fully present to Christ in the Mass as you possibly can, leaving the world behind for that blessed hour or more; unlike Noah and Lot, the world will be there when Mass has ended.