1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Be prepared! That seems to be a mantra for much of the western world. From Boy Scouts to financial planning, preparedness is a way of life. Here in California, earthquake country, everyone is even urged to put together a preparedness kit!
Today’s Gospel calls us to think about our spiritual preparedness kit. Just as we do not know when the next earthquake–maybe even "the big one"–will hit, so too, we do not know when God will call us.
A common way of looking at this reading is to consider it a call to stay free from sin, but there is another message here. Each of us is given only so much time to be disciples of Christ on earth. I think this Gospel warns us to listen for God’s call. To be alert for those times when we are called to be witnesses of Christ through our words and actions. Sometimes opportunities to be disciples appear when we least expect them. Hearing about a family in need, or an offer to join in a prison ministry, or meeting someone who needs consoling are all opportunities for us to serve God. Are we awake to the call?
This is also the Feast Day of St. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church. St. Augustine left us with much theological richness in his writings and his preaching. Augustine went from an ardent critic of Christianity, leading a life of self-indulgence to a Bishop, a great saint and one of the most influential figures in our Church history. His teaching included many aspects of our Faith. Perhaps one of the most important of these is his deep appreciation for the Eucharist and for the Church as the Body of Christ. He exhorted his flock to recognize themselves in the bread and wine they received, to allow it to turn them into itself, so that they would always belong to the Body of Christ.
Looking at St. Augustine’s life in light of today’s reading, we see how recognizing God’s call radically changed his life. Christianity – being a disciple of Christ – was not the path he chose for himself, but he was awake when God called, he listened and followed.
When do we hear God’s call? What opportunities to be disciples are presented in our lives? How do we respond?
Mary Lou Butler ([email protected])is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.