You need to be careful what you preach about because it could come back to haunt you and last weekend was no exception. Most weeks I suppress the knowledge I’m a hypocrite but Saturday night confirmed my worst fears. I had been trying to convince people during evening Mass how I had turned over a new leaf by attempting to cook for myself on the odd occasion, particularly at weekends. Before, I would have phoned or called in to collect a Chinese takeaway, a pizza or a burger and chips, maybe washed down with a diet coke, sometimes with ice because water is good for you!
Now in the light of my recent dieting fad and in an attempt to lose weight in time to put in all on again at Christmas I’m being conscious of eating all things healthy, no more junk or fast food. So much so over the last few weeks there have been threats of closures and redundancies in a few Waterside takeaways.
Last weekend after Mass, by the time I had finished talking about cooking, food, diets and the need to be patient and learning to wait during the season of Advent I was beginning to feel hungry. Preaching away, I had emphasised the need to overcome our struggles and frustrations such as being caught up in traffic and queues at this time of year. I suggested we had lost appreciation for what is involved in waiting because in today’s society we expect everything instantly. Warned in this safe knowledge and always aware I’m preaching to myself as much as everyone else, I decided to organise my dinner after Mass. I wish I could say I went down to the kitchen checked the presses, searched the cupboards for something to cook. I would love to have been able to tell you I stood at the cooker and slaved for an hour after patiently preparing and chopping my ingredients. I would have been so proud to have stood here all five feet three of me and declare how I created something out of this world which I can still taste to this day. But here’s what happened on the way to the kitchen. I called into the sitting room to check on the television the score of the Man Utd and Reading game. There was a spring in my step because I heard United where getting beaten 3-2. Of course when I checked Man Utd weere now winning 4-3.
Inconsolable at this point and whilst being at my weakest and lowest, it happened. I was searching, looking for consolation and on my coffee table I spied my salvation, it was crying out to be noticed. Seriously, I tried to ignore the temptation but within two minutes I found myself ringing the number of the Chinese.
I couldn’t watch the football anymore so I was reduced to watching the X- Factor as I rang and rang and rang.
For twenty minutes I could get nothing but an engaged tone, so fed up with waiting I took matters into my own hand, walked into the kitchen, past the cooker and grabbed my coat and decided to drive down to the takeaway and order there. I couldn’t believe the queue when I arrived, eventually I ordered and rather than hang about waiting I went to one of the local shops and bought my diet coke. I only took about three or four minutes to shop and I returned to the queue in the Chinese. After fifteen minutes I began to panic thinking I had missed the call for my food.
After half an hour I was becoming very nervous. Maybe I had missed the girl’s shout and my food was lying getting cold in some dark corner. After forty-five minutes I was distraught so I approached the corner and looking up to the bench I declared, ‘you know I have been here waiting nearly an hour.’
Thankfully she didn’t ask was I accompanied by an adult and eventually I left with about 2,000 calories wrapped in tinfoil and a brown paper bag. Getting into the car I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I had been preaching about patience and having to learn how to wait, earlier that evening.
In our crowded lives it can be very difficult to find room and space to hear the voice of John the Baptist asking us to prepare and await the coming of the Lord. Sometimes we have to go the desert, the wilderness, away from all the busyness and anxiety which can infect our lives to be able to hear God’s approach.
Taking a break from the familiar and changing our routine can help us to reflect on our lives and open up to God’s presence.
As we attune our ears during the season of Advent we pray for the opportunity and the time to recognise the people and the events through which God’s speaks to us and reveals his presence. As we journey together we ask for the wisdom and the grace to remove the barriers which prevent from seeing or hearing God’s word.
Due to our sinfulness and our failures we all have winding ways which need straightened, mountains which need to be laid low. The good news, thankfully, is the reality God has sent his only begotten Son to save all men and women and he will guide and lead us back to God.