HOW TO PRE-PARE NOT TO PRE-FAIL REFLECTION FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, a king observed that his kingdom was becoming very filthy. He sent his messengers to instruct the people to keep their homes and surroundings clean every day, but the response was inadequate. Hence, the king thought about doing something different about the kingdom’s uncleanliness.

The next day, he sent a message throughout the kingdom, demanding a private audience with each family chief from all the families in the kingdom. The king made each of the heads vow not to reveal the meeting’s content to anyone, even their immediate family members.

Few days after the meeting, the entire kingdom suddenly transforms into a perfect haven. One could see every household cleaning, repairing, and even decorating their houses. The same thing happened to the roads leading to various homes. The kingdom was never that clean. Still, nobody knew what the king said to each of the family chiefs.

One day the king’s only daughter summoned the courage to ask the king to share with her what he said to each of the family chiefs that suddenly transformed the kingdom. The king opened up and said, “I had to tell each of them to clean up their surroundings as I would be coming to eat and stay a night with them, and I will come with a special gift. I also said to each not mind if others are doing the same thing that I will surely come to them”.

The king’s daughter marveled at her father’s wisdom by making every household comply with the directive of cleanliness, thinking that they were preparing for the king’s coming to their homes. But the king’s daughter asked, “what about the gift you promised? Who would get it?” Replying, the king said, “I did not name any gift, but all of them already have it.” “What is it?” the king’s daughter asked, and the king said, “cleanliness, that is what they have been lacking, and they now have it by their conscientious preparation for my coming.

Preparation is the greatest gift anyone can give to oneself. Life is all about preparation, and by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. The word prepare comes from two Latin words, “prae” (before) and “parare” (make-ready). We understand from this Latin root that to prepare means “to make ready before.”

One can find the best examples of preparation in God. Notice that before God created animals, He prepared where they would live. Before making the first human being, God planted a beautiful garden and even gave it a name; Eden (Genesis 2:8), which means delight. God will never do anything without preparing the foreground; in fact, we can say that preparation is a significant characteristic of God.

The Readings of the Second Sunday of Advent have one standard message: the desirability of preparation in the context of our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11) anticipates the comforting coming of the messiah while challenging the people to prepare by filling the lacks, and removing the obstacles, and being upright in their lives. In the Gospel Reading (Mark 1:1-8), the prophet John the Baptist, quoting the prophet Isaiah’s oracle, invites the people to prepare by renouncing their sins and accepting repentance. St. Peter adds in the Second Reading (2 Peter 3:8-14) that we should prepare by conducting ourselves in holiness and devotion.

Understanding the three types of preparation

Physical preparation

We are very conversant with physical preparation because it involves our physical senses. We are often serious with physical preparation for the wrong reasons, like trying to impress, win favors, or get validated by people. While physical preparation is essential, it should not be our ultimate preparation; for instance, the preparation for the births of Jesus Christ should not be all about Christmas trees, lights, jingle bell, and other external decorations. Physical availability also involves making ourselves available at the right time.   

Mental preparation

The human mind lies at the border between the spirit and the body. The Book of Provers (23:7) says that as a man thinks so is, he. St. Paul writing to the Romans (12:2), says, “do not conform yourself to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind to discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

Physical preparation without mental preparation would look like driving without direction—mental preparation functions in giving vitality to our willpower, a sense of purpose, and readiness to function. Mental preparation helps us to form a dependable mindset and remember that your mindset determines the miles you go in life.

Spiritual preparation

The whole essence of preparation is to make us get ready for the coming of the Lord. Physical and mental preparations can only take us so far. Spiritual preparation is the ultimate form of preparation; for this reason, St. Paul says: “live in the spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16)  

The Prophecy of Isaiah (40: 1-5,9-11) gives us three dependable ways to undertake spiritual preparation:

(1) Filling the valleys. A valley is a low land between two high lands. Spiritually it shows that something is lacking. Spiritual preparation here entails bringing back the values that we have lost in our lives. These include but are not restricted to our lack of faith, hope, trust, patience, and ultimately our lack of love for God and others.

(II) Levelling the mountains and hills. Mountains and hills are elevated landscapes. In this context, they appear to be obstacles. Leveling the mountains and hills entails removing the obstacles on our spiritual terrains. They include but are not reduced to an excessive attachment to material things or worldliness and defective mindsets.

(III) Smoothening the rugged plain. Something is rugged when it ceases to be straight. The two essential things you need to make straight are your relationship with God and others and your prayer life.

Moving Forward!

The message today is clear; we either prepare or we pre-fail. What remains to be said is the primary key we need to unlock these three areas of preparation. That key is discipline. Discipline is the aptitude and consistency in complying with specific rules and expectations. Without discipline, preparation would be incomplete or even impossible. Furthermore, without discipline, we would continuously go back to our former ways and habits.

Now we know better. Our needful physical, mental, and spiritual preparations could be attained when we fit into the mold of discipline and the time to start is now because the Lord is coming near,   and every heart needs to prepare him a room. God bless you. Have a blessed weekend and a more glorious week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie

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