December 2, 2023
Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” Luke 21:36
This is the final day of the liturgical year. Tomorrow begins Advent and the beginning of a new Church year. On this day, we are once again presented with a Gospel passage that points to the final coming of Christ. In preparation for that day, the day in which we meet our Lord for judgment, Jesus points to two grave dangers that will cause our hearts to become “drowsy” and leave us unprepared. First, He says that “carousing and drunkenness” will make us unprepared. Second, He says that “the anxieties of daily life” will also leave us unprepared.
On a literal level, carousing and drunkenness means a person relies upon alcohol for satisfaction in life, and they do so by using it to live a lively and somewhat carefree life. They live for the moment and look for satisfaction in self-indulgence. And though drunkenness is specifically mentioned here, there are numerous ways that people attempt to live this way.
Everyone wants to be happy in life. We cannot not work to achieve this innate desire. No one intentionally chooses to be unhappy. However, many people regularly choose things in life that do lead to unhappiness and discontentment. But they do so with the false conviction that this or that action will satisfy. And though there are many things that provide temporary or superficial “happiness,” the truth is that there is only one thing and one thing alone that provides the happiness and fulfillment we desire. That one thing is the presence of God alive within our souls.
The “anxieties of daily life” are also a great burden to so many. No one intentionally chooses to be anxious. No one wants to experience this form of interior disturbance. And though anxiety can come from many sources, physical, psychological and spiritual, one primary source of anxiety is stress that is not dealt with in a proper way. Stress can come from tensions at work, at home or within one’s own soul. Stress usually occurs when some difficulty is faced and reacted to with fear, confusion, anger, despair and the like. According to Jesus, giving in to these anxieties can leave a person unprepared for the day of their judgment at the end of their life or the end of the world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Stress and tension, and the anxiety that results from them, is most decisively cured by turning from the difficulty one experiences and turning to a deep and total trust in the providence of God. At Mass, the priest prays after the “Our Father” that God “free us from all distress” and that we will instead “await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Faith and hope in God and in His final coming at the end of time is the spiritual cure for the anxiety and distress we often experience in life. Trusting in our Lord, with the utmost confidence, will enable us to achieve this peaceful disposition and with joyful hope and confidence.
Reflect, today, upon those things that hinder you the most from being ready to meet our Lord. Perhaps you struggle with ongoing choices that reflect a life of “carousing and drunkenness.” Or perhaps you struggle deeply with worry, distress and anxiety. If this is you, know that freedom awaits. It awaits you if you can only embrace and live the final prayer of this reflection: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Trust Him. Entrust your poor decisions in life to Him. Entrust your sin to Him. And entrust all of your worries and tensions that lead to an unsettled heart. As you do so, try to rest in the consoling arms of our Lord so that you will be fully prepared for that glorious day of our Lord’s judgment that awaits.
My hopeful Lord, You and You alone are the answer to every struggle in life. You and You alone can relieve me of my burdens and the poor choices I make. Help me to trust in You always and in every circumstance in life. I do entrust myself to You and choose to make You the single focus of my life. Jesus, I do trust in You!