When I was a youth minister, I once got a speeding ticket with an 8 foot tall, 200 lbs cross in the bed of my truck. I was leaving a retreat house and didn’t notice when the speed dropped 15 mph without any discernible reason. It was no coincidence that an officer of the law was ready and waiting for me to pass at an advanced speed. After politely receiving my ticket and getting back on the road, I did my best Admiral Ackbar impression and exclaimed, “IT’S A TRAP!”
Getting caught in a speed trap has an element of surprise and unreadiness. Traps don’t happen on accident. To set a trap for someone else is a purposeful decision.
In the gospel Jesus warns us to beware, to prepare because Jesus’ second coming will be a surprise to all. Why do we have to choose to be prepared? Jesus explains that everyday life can be a trap. We can be lulled into the belief that everything will continue as it always has and that our comfortable, if slightly boring, waking and working and sleeping will continue perpetually.
In the list of 3 things that can distract us from being prepared, Jesus first names carousing and drunkenness, which make sense. Then Jesus names, “the anxieties of daily life” as a thing that can keep us from being ready. Getting bogged down in the drudgery of life as it always is can keep us from being ready for the Lord.
So how do we avoid this trap? I think the answer is to be outward focused. When we are only focused inward, on our own needs and wants, we grow in anxiety about our own hungers and thirsts. But when we focus on others, I’ve found, we lose ourselves in serving and anxieties of our daily life seem so much less important.
Beware! Prepare! (by looking to serve selflessly the people you encounter every day.)
LIVE IT: For the first week of Advent, try approaching every person you encounter by thinking, “How can I serve this person right now? How can our encounter leave them feeling happy, holy, or healthy?”