Virtuous Vigilance

Spirit and Life

The house is clean. The food is prepared and you are ready. You are expecting a very special guest at your home and you want everything to be just right.

You have worked diligently for weeks, clearing the clutter and dusting away the cobwebs that usually go unnoticed. The long-awaited time has come and you feel an excited sense of anticipation as you await the arrival of your guest. You are sure your time together is going to be wonderful. You are peaceful and happy, and you watch hopefully out the window, waiting and watching. You are vigilant for your guest's arrival.

Now let's take a look at how you might feel if that same guest were coming to visit and you were not so ready.

You have been preoccupied with the demands of your dayto-day life and have not taken time to clean your house. In the middle of preparing the special meal you have planned, you realize you do not have all the ingredients you need and decide to run to the grocery store even though you are short on time. To add to your stress, traffic is heavy and the lines at the checkout lanes are long and slow. You return home with just enough time to finish preparing the food.

As you run to get dressed, you peer out the window and pray your guest will be late so you can have more time. You still have so much you need to do to prepare for your guest. Then you hear the doorbell ring. Oh no! You're not ready. You wanted this evening to be so special, but you just had not planned your time well. You feel tired and defeated and disheveled. You tuck in your shirt and smooth the wayward strands of hair from your face as you open the door, out of breath and forcing a smile. Instead of feeling excited to see your special guest, you feel frustrated and embarrassed. Your guest was worth the extra effort, but you did little to show it.

The guest is the same in both cases. His or her expectations for enjoying your company are the same. You, on the other hand, are like two different people inhabiting the same body. The tone for the whole visit has been set by how prepared you were to receive your guest.

How vigilant will you be on Sunday to receive the greatest Guest of all into your own body? Will you be ready and watching for the coming of Christ? Have you cleaned the cobwebs from your soul by making a good examination of conscience and then going to confession? Have you been watchful for opportunities to prepare your heart for Jesus by spending quiet time in prayer or are you more worried about getting “everything done”? Have you shared your time and treasure to show gratitude to God by helping the less fortunate through acts of charity and love?

Some weeks it can be hard to see Jesus coming through the clutter of our day-to-day lives. Sunday morning might arrive to find us feeling exhausted, stressed and completely unprepared to receive Christ into our frustrated hearts. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can stop the craziness of the workaday world and decide to let God take control of your life.

Slow down. Take a breath. Look at your schedule and clear away the things that do not help you prepare for Christ each Sunday morning. You will then be able to receive him well and make Christ the special guest of your soul. Be vigilant for Christ. Who knows what gift he will try to give you in your very next holy Communion — but only if you are ready to receive him.

Jackie Oberhausen writes from Fort Wayne, Indiana.