It’s easy to think that the world is awful. And that it’s only getting worse. It’s easy to cite the violence and hunger and poverty. The protests over institutional injustice. The continuing military conflicts. The overconsumption, overmedication, oversexualization. On Sunday/Monday, there was the hostage situation in a café in Sydney. It’s easy to look at the news and fear for the future.
One way to deal with the awful is to be prepared. Fight the odds, be cautious, don’t be a statistic. Have a 3-month food supply, buy a gun, take off your shoes at airport security. The show Doomsday Preppers shows the extreme of this. Those people are preparing for the complete dismantling of civilization. The end is near—be afraid.
Advent is all about preparation. But it is the complete opposite of fear. The angels said, “Be not afraid! I bring tidings of great joy!” The future that Advent promises is one of increasing terror; it is of victory from that terror. The Savior is coming; the future is one of victory and joy! Preparation does not mean hiding under a desk, waiting for a blast. Preparation means cleaning the house, opening the doors—embracing the change about to arrive.
Preparation requires reflection and work, which is why this is a season of penance. But we are preparing for a very good future, which is why Gaudete Sunday reminds us that joy belongs there too. Yes, the world can look pretty awful and bleak. But the story isn’t over yet. We can be redeemed. The end is near—be joyous!