Preparing for His Arrival
By Jenny Dendinger
If someone tells you that they are going to stop by for an unexpected visit, what’s the first thing you do? I know in my family, we clean!
I immediately announce that a visitor is on their way and instruct everyone to quickly pick up anything out of place. We also wipe down countertops and prepare the bathroom with extra toilet paper and a dry towel. By the time we finish, our house is clean – certainly not thoroughly or deeply cleaned, but it’s presentable.
I recently made the connection that I grew up going to confession this way. Every year before Christmas and Easter, I dutifully tidied up my soul. Liturgically, I knew that this was what you were supposed to do. Advent and Lent were times to prepare our hearts for Jesus, and confession was a vital part of that.
This year, I helped my fourth child prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation. Each time I have assisted my children in their sacramental prep, God has reached out and drawn me closer to him.
Over time, he’s helped me realize that this quick cleaning of my soul was not enough. Not only was I neglecting the sin that was piling up in places I gave myself permission to ignore, but I was also encouraging a lazy attitude in my heart about the sacrament.
Instead of keeping myself accountable and going to confession when it was necessary, I had been waiting for the announcement that Jesus was coming and attempting to do a quick clean before he arrived.
Even though I’ve been working to correct this problem, the comparison to cleaning my house hit me in a way that I hadn’t considered before. Am I recognizing when I need to clean up my soul, or am I shoving my sins in a closet and convincing myself that I’ll deal with them later?
Christmas and Easter aren’t the only times we need to prepare for Jesus. Every Sunday, the priest holds up the Eucharist and proclaims, “The Body of Christ.” When we respond, “Amen,” we’re acknowledging that the Eucharist is Jesus.
Knowing this, we should be frequently asking ourselves – is my soul truly prepared for his arrival?