First Sunday of Advent
December 1, 2019
I am embarrassed because last Sunday’s blog was a “repeat”. I am especially embarrassed, because I “should’ve-could’ve” been better prepared, so that a repeat wasn’t necessary.
In late August, I learned that on November 19, I was going to have total knee replacement surgery. The doctor gave me a fairly detailed sheet spelling out ways for me to physically prepare. In short, it was recommended that I lose weight, eat healthy foods and of course…exercise!
Again, I am embarrassed to admit that I knew exactly what I had to do, and had every intention of doing it. However, I wasn’t so good about sticking to the plan. I kept finding excuses to enjoy a second piece of pie, fries with my burger, or a midnight snack. Even more embarrassing is the way that I kept putting off the exercise program by fooling myself into thinking that there was no point in starting too soon. I can get in shape in 45 days…30 days is all it will take…If I work out in the morning AND the evening I can make up for the lost time…etc.etc.etc.
And then “all of a sudden” it was surgery day.
I quickly came to understand that everything was much harder because I had not prepared properly. Everything could have gone much easier, if only I hadn’t fooled myself into thinking that there was plenty of time to prepare.
For me, however, the most serious and painful consequence of my failure to properly and fully prepare for what I knew was coming, was my total inability to make a proper connection with last Sunday’s Readings. I am totally embarrassed to admit that The Feast of Christ the King came and went with me being so totally preoccupied with my physical condition, that there didn’t seem to be much time nor energy to pick up my Bible and properly prepare to celebrate the conclusion of the liturgical year. I was either in a little too much pain to focus on the powerful Readings of the day, or asleep because of the pain med. Determined not to begin the new liturgical year, on the same sad note with which I concluded the year that just ended, I made a point of beginning the multiple, daily rehabilitation exercises with a few moments of spiritual exercise, reading and reflecting on the passages the Church gives us on this First Sunday of Advent.
I made an immediate connection between what I have just experienced and the take away from this set of Readings. It is critical to prepare. Proper preparation makes everything less challenging and that much more likely to be successful. Just so, giving in to the all too human inclination to delay frequently leaves us surprised and at a great disadvantage when we find that we have run out of time.
Even though Advent is the season of joyful anticipation for the great feast of Christmas, preparation is still important. Unlike Lent, Advent is not penitential in its purpose or focus. Still, it is a time for preparation.
It is important to “lose weight.” The weight we place on ourselves by shopping, wrapping, baking, card writing…and trying to at least make an appearance at every, single Christmas party. The busyness of these activities can preoccupy us and become so burdensome, that when Christmas Eve finally comes, we are totally worn out.
I am definitely not one to preach about eating healthy. But who can argue the fact that Eucharist…The Bread of Life…is essential to the Spiritual diet of Advent.
As far as exercise goes, what season offers more opportunities for Christian charity and service?
We Christians know the authentic way to prepare for Christ’s birth. It is simply a matter of following the program. It is the ultimate embarrassment to have Christ come and not be ready to receive Him properly.