St. Augustine of Hippo said, “If we ask the question whether Jesus is the Christ, all who are Christians reply yes with one voice. But let their voices be silent for a little while so we can question their lives.” It is easier to call ourselves Christian than to actually be one. As we begin a new year in our Church, now is the time to renew our commitment to the Christian life.
The Prophet Isaiah said, “In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain…Many people shall come and say: ‘Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.’” That sounds amazing. Who doesn’t want to sit in God’s presence, hear God’s voice, and walk in his peaceful paths? It really does sound amazing…but first we have to climb.
Our family does Thanksgiving on Wednesday so we had Thursday wide open this year. We decided to go for a hike around Pinecrest lake. The lake was mostly drained, but it was really nice with so few people there! One side of the lake’s shore was sunny and I was sweating–even with snow on the ground–and while I was relieved to finally be in the shade when we got to the other side, it was crazy slippery from snow that had become ice! I think Jill is the only one that didn’t slip and fall, and I fell twice!
The Pinecrest hike is NOT steep! It is not dangerous! It is not difficult, and I’m embarrassed to say that I did not do well. I was exhausted, limping, and couldn’t wait to get back in my truck. I must admit that I’m out of shape, and today’s readings should have us worried if our spiritual fitness looks anything like my physical fitness. Isaiah said the Lord’s mountain is established as the highest mountain! I was exhausted by the lake, I’m not ready to climb the highest mountain! Did you notice that people said, “Come, Let us climb the Lord’s mountain,”…they hadn’t even started yet! They were still at the bottom all-motivated. How many, do you think, actually made it? How many of us will make it?
As we begin Advent, we should be motivated as we begin to climb the Lord’s mountain this year. We should be filled with the hope that marks this first Sunday of Advent–but we must prepare. Because hope without preparation is just wishful thinking. I saw one girl on our hike in the snow with Converse Chuck T’s and a crop top t-shirt. If we are going on a hike we need the right clothing, the right shoes, and the right attitude. If we are hiking the Lord’s mountain, we need Sacred Scripture, our Rosary, and the right attitude.
First, get a good Bible for this year. Not the great big one on the coffee table. Get a New American Bible Revised Edition; the NABRE. It’s what we hear in Church on Sunday in the United States. Start by reading the story of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and then move on to the Acts of the Apostles. When you’ve gotten through Jesus and the Church, read some of the letters written to Churches in the ancient world; Roman, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians.
Next, prayer. The rosary is a beautiful prayer of the Church and it’s easy. There are lots of guides on the internet that will walk you through all the prayers. Get a rosary you like and just start carrying it around with you for a while, get used to it, start using it. And the greatest prayer of the Church is the Mass. Be here. Every Sunday–no exceptions.
Finally, stay positive, stay appreciative for all the Lord sends your way– the good and the bad–and stay awake! We do not know on which day our Lord will come. We must be prepared, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come. And by that time it will be too late. Now is the time for preparation so our lives are the evidence of our belief in Jesus.