****Here is the link to the recorded homily*****
The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. When Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the worldwide scouting movement, was asked about what this means he responded, “Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”
Some would say that this is a direct contradiction to today’s Gospel passage where Jesus says, “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”
Yet, I’d like to suggest that they go hand in hand. Jesus is reminding us that we do not need to prepare our defense. We don’t need to think ahead of time about how we might answer questions if we are brought before the authorities.
I think the real key to Baden Powell’s idea is to “prepare by . . . practicing how we act . . . so that [we are] never taken be surprise.”
I’ve mentioned in daily homilies before how I am astonished about how some groups of people react when a prophet of some sort says the end is near. People gather together and start reading scripture. They start to pray. Some even go through some sort of confession. I guess this is what we as Catholic refer to as immediate preparation. This is the last bit of preparation that needs to take place to be ready for something.
Yet, we need to also think about remote preparation. I’ll give you a quick example of the difference. When I preach a homily on the virtues of marriage and what it means to be married I am remotely preparing people for marriage. When they come to meet with me to prepare for their reception of the sacrament, we are doing immediate preparation.
How do we remotely prepare ourselves for the end days? A good start would be to do what people do when they think the end is near. Start by taking time to grow as people of prayer. Spend time reading the scriptures. Go to confession.
These ideas are the beginning of practicing how we act so that we are not taken by surprise.
When scouts learn about first aid, they usually have all of the things they need at hand to make a splint and to make a sling. They learn the principles needed to stop bleeding with dressings and bandages at hand. When scouts face real life emergencies, they do not have splints and slings and dressings and bandages. The scouts fall back upon their training to use what they can find to make a difference. Scouts learn to think through the emergency to get the results that are desired.
Earlier this month, five young scouts were out elk hunting with their fathers. The boys were in one tent with a wood stove to keep them warm that night. They got up the next morning, enjoyed their breakfast and then went over to the tent in which their fathers were sleeping to let them know they were taking off to hunt. When they got to the tent they found the men unconscious and suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of having a propane heater running all night in the tent. The boys reacted quickly to remove the men from the tent and to go for help. They had fallen back upon the training they had received as boy scouts.
We will face a lot of persecution for our faith. We will face people questioning our beliefs. We will need to be prepared.
In addition to reading scripture and learning to pray, we need to live our lives dedicated completely to Christ. We need to live moral lives that are an example. If we are practicing our faith to the fullest, we will be ready when the time comes.
Lord Baden Powell also said, “A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.”
Jesus told us in today’s gospel, "Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”
If we live the faith in all that we do, we will have the wisdom given by Christ that will make our adversaries powerless and in reality make us strong.