How often do we hear those words? If you were a Boy Scout, you learned their meaning early in your life. For my family, be prepared usually meant, “Go to the bathroom now. We are going to church and there is no bathroom there.” Way back then, that was the truth!
Our readings for this weekend speak of a different time, the end time! It is otherwise known as the fullness of the Kingdom arriving, or the Second Coming. Jesus tells us that we never know when that will be. In the same way, we don’t know when we will die. Being prepared for death and conserving hope is part of our long-held Christian tradition. Most of us learned early that God made us to know, love, and serve God on earth and to be happy with God in heaven.
How does one prepare for death, especially in the midst of random acts of violence and terror, natural disasters of huge proportion, or the deaths of refugees seeking a better life? How do we make ourselves ready to meet the Lord each and every day? How do we stay vigilant with hope? How do we become like the “wise virgins” who keep their lamps lit with abundant oil?
First, hope in everlasting life with God asks us to not be afraid. Our much needed “oil” comes from a variety of sources. We consistently and intentionally reflect on God’s Word in Scripture, we look to the witness of Jesus, we celebrate the liturgy whole-heartedly, we live according to commandments to love unconditionally, and we seek spiritual guides or mentors. There we will find Wisdom. Paying attention to God’s presence in our lives will be our guiding light. Our lamps will burn brightly and illuminate our path. And we won’t run out of oil!
So we pray: Fill our lamps with hope so that we might be a light in the darkness. Help us to stay awake and open our hearts to act in ways that express love. And may we do all this with our eyes constantly fixed on you, God! We live in hope that you will come again to establish justice forever. This is your promise and our heart’s yearning.