When I was a kid I played softball. At the time it was the thing to do. I played throughout my childhood and well into my adult life. I played infield because I could not play outfield. You see, I have very short attention span. If I were put in the outfield, I would try really hard to stay ready, but I just couldn’t do it. I would crouch down, give some chatter, smack my glove a few times, chatter some more.. . . then notice the bee, or the person in the stands, or count the dandelions, or scratch my nose or . . . . The next thing I knew the ball was hurdling toward me and I was not ready. I was not even close. Worse than missing the play and letting my team down was how stupid I felt. Fortunately for me, my coaches soon realized that I did much better when I was kept more engaged, so they moved me to the infield.
This Sunday’s Gospel is about being ready. Jesus tells us to stay ready, because you do not know when the Son of Man (He means Himself) will come. He tells us to be prepared and stay awake. I think that is kind of scary, actually – I mean, I am sure that Jesus has seen me play outfield and He knows how bad I am at staying awake and being prepared! I am so easily distracted! I try to keep my head in the game, but then . . .
I think what Jesus knows though, is that it is easier to stay in the game when you are in every play or closer to the action. Being ready means talking to your team, watching or being in the plays and staying in shape. For Catholics it means praying in all ways, putting your faith in action, and going to Mass. Praying in all ways means that you can pray by recitation, singing, doing dishes, helping the poor, talking to God, reading scripture, etc. Putting your faith in action translates to corporal works of mercy. Do things like feed the hungry and visit the sick. Going to Mass . . . . it’s more than just going . . . it is again, using the time to stay in shape. . . . You can go to the gym and just sit in the lounge, drink smoothies and watch everyone else work out, or you can get on the bench and pump some iron! You can go to Mass and just sit there, or you can use the time to get into it and get your soul in shape. Like playing softball and most sports, being ready for the Son of Man gets a lot easier with practice. The more that you put into it, the more that you will get out of it. Don’t be the person who’s left in the outfield making a dandelion necklace and feeling stupid.