Being Truly Prepared

Under the adage of being prepared for life’s certainties and uncertainties, there is an entire industry of magazines, books and shows on radio and television dedicated to financial advice and to retirement and estate planning.  Likewise, we are cautioned to be ready in case of disasters, emergencies, accidents or illness by having insurance, a stockpile of water, food, and medical supplies, and so on.

It is of course prudent from a worldly perspective to be prepared financially and materially for the expected events of supporting a family, a changing economy and our personal aging, as well as unexpected disability, job loss, or sudden life-changing incidents. But from the ultimate perspective, even more crucial is being prepared spiritually. Eventually, our bodies fail.  Death comes for us all and when it does, we should want to be able to give a positive account of ourselves before the Lord. And if the only legacy we leave our loved ones is monetary wealth, we leave them too little.

Throughout November leading up to the end of the liturgical year, the Church lifts up for us the imperative of vigilance with respect to our own earthly end and to the culmination of all human history, either of which may come at any moment. “Stay awake,” Jesus says, “for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13). Until then, we need to live as “children of the light” and be good stewards of the life and gifts that God has bestowed on us (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6; Matthew 25:14-30).

When our lives are reviewed, Jesus will not judge us on how successful we were in business, how much wealth or power we acquired, or how popular we were.  Besides, even in this life, each of these things are fleeting and could be lost in an instant. Instead, we will be judged on our love – of God and neighbor – and on whether we sought to live in goodness and truth (CCC 1022).

What this all means is saying “yes” to God like Mary our Blessed Mother, and then keeping the faith, competing well with a charitable and virtuous life, and maintaining hope in the Risen Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-7). It means welcoming in our hearts the Lord who wishes to transform our lives into a reflection of his own and living out our Gospel mission through prayer, sacramental grace, showing our family members and others that we love them, and reconciling with those we have become estranged.  In this way, we build our lives on the rock of the eternal, store up treasure with God, and also leave behind a truly valuable and fruitful legacy in the world.

This awareness of our inevitable death and that the Lord will come again need not be cause for anxiety.  In his infinite love, God wants us to have eternal life with him.  But this realization should serve as a wake-up call for how we lead our lives here and now so that we are worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).