Do you like surprises? I suppose a lot depends upon what type of surprise it is. Winning the lottergody might be a surprise we enjoy, notice that we are receiving an audit from the IRS, not so much. Most surprises are not so dramatic. But surprise is a part of our lives. We simply cannot plan for each moment of the day, because life is, by definition, unpredictable.
When we consider faith, it too can create surprises. We may become aware of God’s presence at unpredictable times. We may discover that even though we thought our vocation a “settled” matter, God continues to call us in unpredictable ways. I found this to be true when I moved from a feeling of certainty about being ordained a diocesan priest only to feel further called to life as a Dominican. God’s call is constant in its desire to help us to be led more and more deeply in relationship with Jesus.
But when it comes to the biggest surprise, the Day of the Lord when Christ will return, we need not be surprised. Why? Because as baptized Christians, we are children of the light. God has enlightened us so that we can realize that we are always immersed in the presence and love of God. It does not “catch us off guard” because we have available this life-changing relationship with God.
This does not mean that the awareness and reality of this relationship spares us from all difficulties and suffering. What it does mean is that we are never alone in such difficulty and suffering. And that we may not always know why or how, our suffering has some type of meaning in the larger picture, not because God wishes it upon us, but rather because God can make something good from even the worst events in human history.
We are only caught off guard when we fail to seek the Lord. What keeps us from seeking God? Well, just about anything, really. We can be too caught up in work, materialism, image, avoiding pain or even ministry when its motivation is not about leading people to God. Even good things can become not so good if we are not aware in our lives how this has as its source and purpose this profound relationship with God.
Maybe then, the invitation today is to move more and more into spaces where we can encounter God. Maybe it is in prayerfully asking God to come to us in the reading of the Bible. Maybe it is finding a place in a Catholic church for quiet prayer or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Whatever it is, know that today God invites you to a deeper relationship.