One Tuesday night, around 10:15, my doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be stopping by my house that day, much less at bedtime, so I confusedly made my way to the door to see what nitwit would be showing up so late, ready to give them a piece of my mind about etiquette and prior notice of arrival.
And then I heard someone singing Unchained Melody. Immediately recognizing the voice, I yanked open the door and there, standing on my front porch, was my boyfriend (now husband). Suitcase in hand, big smile plastered across his face, he had changed his flights to arrive early in Lake Charles to celebrate Thanksgiving…and he hadn’t told me.
I was in shock. My jaw dropped and my arms hung limp at my side. All the while, my overly excited dog was running circles around Tommy, jumping up against his leg and drooling expectantly as he ran to grab a ball for fetch.
“What…what…what are you doing here? How did you get here?” were the first words out of my mouth, quickly followed by, “You’re not supposed to be here…I’m not ready for you to be here, yet!”
Tommy, wonderful and patient man that he is, stepped into the house and pulled me into a big hug, quickly explaining how his regularly planned flights would’ve been cancelled due to bad weather, so he rebooked and decided to turn it into a Thanksgiving surprise.
I’m pretty sure my statement, “I’m not ready for you to be here, yet” wasn’t exactly the reaction he was hoping for…
In my mind, though, I still had a lot to do in preparation for his arrival. I had laundry to be folded and I had plans of baking cookies for him. The house needed to be spotless, the fridge should have been fully stocked with his favorite fruits and veggies, and I needed to wash the towels. But here he was, 24 hours early and there was still a ton I needed to do. I was anxiously anticipating his arrival, excited for him to be with my family for Thanksgiving, but I wanted him to arrive on my terms and within my timeline of preparation. I wanted him there, but I wasn’t ready yet.
But isn’t that exactly what Christ cautions us against with His own return someday?
We read in Scripture, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13). We have no idea when Jesus will return, nor do we precisely know how and what will happen on that day. We just know that He will triumphantly return to this world, and we take great comfort in that Truth. But how many of us have a lot to do to get ready for that return? How many of us need to “fold the laundry” and “stock the fridge” before the arrival of Jesus? Have we been putting off confession or avoiding forgiving that one enemy? How many times have we said “I should make prayer more of a priority,” and then made ourselves too busy to put it into our schedule. How often have we said “I’m going to try and make Daily Mass at least twice a week,” and as soon as the alarm at 6 a.m. starts beeping, we smash the snooze button and roll back over, forgetting about our would-be commitment?
The best laid plans are usually ruined, and it’s usually our own fault. We have to ask ourselves: am I going to be ready for His arrival, whether it’s at the end of the world or at Christmas in a few weeks?
As we begin the new Liturgical season of Advent, we’re invited to purposefully prepare for the arrival of the Lord. The entire purpose of this four week season is to anticipate Emmanuel, dutifully preparing for the celebration of His birth. In Her infinite wisdom, Holy Mother Church sets aside this time for us to intentionally ready the way for the Lord.
I challenge you to do something purposeful to prepare for Jesus’ birth. Go to Confession before Christmas. Make daily prayer a priority. Read a few chapters from one of the Gospels each day (I suggest Luke). Pray the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, placing yourself at the events surrounding Jesus’ birth and meditating on the holiness of Mary, our Mother.
Take this time to make ready your heart and home for the arrival of our Savior, so that if He were to arrive on your porch 24 hours early, you’re not caught saying, “I’m not ready for you to be here yet…”