"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man." (Lk 21:34-36)
How's for two out of three? (It works for Meatloaf...)
It's like, Jesus knows human nature and has no need of human testimony or something: He picks out three rather salient sidetracking devices to exhort people against moral lassitude.
Most of my readers, I trust, have little carousing experience to note (though perhaps they've been on a carousel--I checked it, no etymological relationship). Perhaps a few have had episodic drunkenness (and, boy, what episodes!). But what for the anxieties of daily life?
Quotidian qualms can distract one's heart from the pursuit of God just as well as any sinful substance or activity. In fact, recovering addicts often report that anxiety (and its cousins, excitement and depression) has become their new drug of choice! Our cares were always around, even when using or drinking or whatever, but there was hardly any mental energy to appreciate them for what they were.
Excitement, depression, and anxiety have to do with the emotions. Many people have a hard time dealing with their emotions. They make a wonderful servant, but a poor master. Yet how often, and to what disastrous ends, we have it in reverse (with the parking brake on...with our wheels up on cinder blocks...or without wheels)!
"That day will assault everyone"..."That day" is the Day of the Lord, often attested by the prophets as the Lord's final visitation of the earth. The concept predated the Incarnation, so the prophets didn't know that "the Day of the Lord" would feature a divine Person in human flesh. Ever the prophet, Jesus then picked up on the concept of the Day as the moment of His own glorious return.
"Assault"...the Greek verb has two prepositions built into it: epi and eis. Literally, "to come upon and into"--think of an eagle snatching its unsuspecting next meal. Yeah, that sudden.
It is easy, Jesus says, to dull our spiritual sense, so that we are not aware of His Presence. This past week I devoted a few days to recovering that necessary vigilance. I don't foresee any imminent tribulations, but who does? Whenever He deems appropriate, the Son of Man will summon me to Himself. Only with His strength can I prepare each day for that wondrous moment.