Imagine an important exam we have to sit for, a very long journey we have to make, a critical assignment we have to submit. Imagine also that we know exactly what questions will be asked, and what the answers are, what to pack for the trip, how to go about the assignment.

How should we prepare ourselves for each of these eventualities? We already know the textbook answer: do what you are supposed to. Study for the exam, pack your bags, work on the assignment, and make progress before it comes due. Maybe do that just before the exam/journey/assignment’s due date, so we have more time to enjoy the finer things in life (like Netflix, TikTok, Monster Hunter Now, y’know, fine things!). We may need to put away some things for a bit to prepare, but it will be worth it.

But what if we didn’t know when the exam would be, when the driver would come, or when we would need to submit the assignment, and we were told it could take place at any time? How should we order our affairs then?

The Readings for this Sunday make quite clear to us that this is how the end will come along – suddenly and in the midst of our everyday life. It will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2), maybe “a long time after” (Mt 25:19). The Lord Jesus himself said that he would come at an hour we do not expect (Mt 24:44).

What is the solution then? Maybe it is to make the preparation part of our daily life – to live in anticipation of the event. Then we won’t have to worry about rushing at the last minute and being found wanting; we will be ready. Like the perfect wife in the First Reading, who is always busy, working with eager hands. Like the sons of light living wide awake and sober. Like the good and faithful servants making talents for the master.

At the end of the liturgical year, perhaps it is time to take stock of the areas in my life where I need to build more of the “preparation” into my routines. Maybe it is making 15 minutes for prayer and reflection in the morning, making a weekly practice of charity and almsgiving, planning a routine to go to the sacrament of reconciliation more, or making it a point to share the wonderful things that God has done for me in my life with a colleague or friend. Each resolution can then be put into action this Advent season.

Let us strive to place ourselves in the position to hear the Lord, when he suddenly comes, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant … come and join in your master’s happiness.”

By: Vincent Ong