Reflection for Thursday, August 26, 2004: 21st week in Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Rodriguez, Luis, S.J.
Issue Date
2004-08-26
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Essay
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en_US
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When we read this gospel passage, we may feel like starting to take some steps to be ready for that most important and definitive encounter with the Lord. The problem is that we do not know when that encounter will take place and, at least if we are in relatively good health, we do not see such preparation as urgent. But today's gospel reading is not about preparation, it is about preparedness. Not about getting ready, but about living ready. Let me illustrate the distinction.|Some years ago I was working during the summer in the experimental lab of an engine manufacturing company. The lab building was separated from the rest of the plant and, besides most workers being lax about safety rules, there was a lot of loafing going on at the lab. Occasionally the chief engineers from the main building would come to the lab and, as soon as our secretary spotted them on their way, she would ring a prearranged code to let everyone know. Quickly all got to their working stations, put on the required protective goggles, and adopted a very fake air of productivity. That kind of readiness on short notice is what I call preparation.|I have become convinced however that, as far as they are concerned, most people today die unexpectedly. This is obvious in cases of accidents, lethal assaults, heart attacks, brain hemorrhages etc. But my experience is that most people who get sick do not expect to die -especially with current medical technology- and all too often the families make sure the sick person does not know that death is a likely outcome. By the time death is imminent and denial by others is no longer sustainable, the sick person has lost consciousness and is no longer able to engage in "preparation" on short notice. |As for preparedness, we have all seen commercials or documentaries where the action is suddenly stopped and we see smiles that appear to have been frozen for ever. Those people did not smile for the camera as in a studio photo, they just were smiling when the action stopped and their smiles became permanent. That is what I call preparedness, as distinct from preparation. |The Lord is challenging us to preparedness, because there will not be an accomplice secretary or a prearranged code to afford us time for preparation. The challenge is not about dying face to God, but about living face to God. After all, if we live face to God, how else could we die? Death will only make permanent our smile, our being face to God.
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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