But this past week, the "joy-meter" made a huge jump. Last Wednesday at about 5 o'clock, I was driving down Auburn Road and I saw the St. Vincent's football team practicing. I immediately got excited. I love football and can't wait to see our team play.
Then, the next day, I was out driving again and the "joy-meter" shot up to about 150% when I saw the Bishop Dwenger football team practicing. I stopped by practice, told the guys I was praying for them and asked them to pray for me.
Our teams are running drills, learning their positions and executing their plays. They’re preparing… they're getting ready
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us to be ready for His coming. "Gird your loins," he says. What in the world does that mean? Well, in first century Palestine, men wore long robes and girding your loins was to hike up your robes a bit and cinch them with your belt so you could move about more freely and work. "Gird your loins" is kind of a first century way of saying, "Roll up your sleeves."
And Jesus says, "light your lamps." That's kind of a first century way of saying, "Keep your eyes peeled."
When we think about getting ready we tend to think that means doing a lot of stuff. For example, when you go on vacation, you pack your bags, get your trip mapped out, fill the tank with gas and have a neighbor pick up your mail. Or, like the football team; they're running drills, learning their positions and executing plays.
So, if Jesus wants us to be ready for His coming, what should we do? This answer may sound dumb, but I’ll throw it out there anyway: all you have to do to be ready for Jesus, is just be ready for Jesus.
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Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking “I have to be super-holy in order to have a relationship with Jesus.” That’s like saying “I have to lose 20 pounds before I can start my diet.” It doesn't work that way. Going on the diet helps us lose 20 pounds. Having a relationship with Jesus that continues to grow is what makes us Saints.
Father Martin says, “Jesus often calls people to conversion, to cease sinning, to change their lives, but he doesn’t wait until they have done so before meeting them. He enters in relationship with them as he finds them. He meets them where they are. Your spiritual house does not need to be tidy for God to enter.”
He goes on, “In the Gospels, Jesus often meets people in the midst of their busy lives: Peter mending his nets by the seashore, Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. Just as often he encounters people when their at their absolute worst: [like the] adulterous woman about to be stoned.”
Now that doesn't mean that Jesus meets us where we are and stays there with us. It means that Jesus meet us where we are and lifts us up into his life of light, truth and virtue.
It means is that Jesus comes to us just as we are, right now, today, to have that relationship with us. The only thing we have to do is be ready to greet him when he comes and to be ready to do His will. In other words, we only have to have our eyes peeled, ready to recognize him when He comes, and our sleeves rolled up ready to do what he wants us to do.
You don't have to wait to "become holy" before going to Confession. Confession is what helps you become holy.
You don't have to wait to become a veteran of prayer before having a deep conversation with God. God wants to talk to rookie prayers
We're just like those St. Vincent's and Bishop Dwenger football players. Some are veterans and have been playing for years. And some are rookies, playing for the first time in their lives, and don’t know much about football yet. But guess what, they’re all on the team
They made the team by girding their loins: putting on the pads. And they made the team by lighting their lamps: listening to their coaches.
They’re ready for practice. Are we?