The scriptures today are about urgency. Luke tells us that the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up and He sets His face to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was ahead of Him. He knew He had to confront the infidelity and hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He knew He had to speak the truth of God and that this would cost Him. Nothing would divert Him from His task. In Luke’s gospel when Jesus talks about His inevitable confrontation with the authorities and how He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners and would die, Peter couldn’t imagine such a thing happening and he says to Jesus, “this must never happen to you”. Peter would do anything to avoid this clash between Jesus and the authorities. But Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me Satan because the way you think is man’s way, not God’s way.” No, Jesus was committed to following His vocation to preach the good news of God’s love and truth no matter what the cost. All this is summed up in the simple phrase, “He set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
A number of years ago someone gave me a circle made of felt and in the centre of the circle were the letters twit – ‘twit’. The article is called ‘a round twit.’ How often have we heard ourselves saying, ‘when I have the time I’ll get around to it,’ or ‘one of these days I’ll get around to it.’ Right now I’m too busy, I’ve got other things to do.
Elijah calls Elisha to the urgent task of prophecy but Elisha was in that ‘around to it’ mentality. He had others things to do, he was busy. In time he would get around to the task.
It’s the same with the people in the gospel. They were interested in following Jesus but there were other matters to be attended to – their message was, ‘ listen, I’m really interested in following you, learning from you but I’ve got other things going on right now. I’ll get around to it one of these days.’
Years ago the Ontario government promoted a winter works program and its motto was, ‘why wait for spring, do it now.’ There is a wisdom in ‘doing it now’ because it is all we’ve got. How many people do we know who have said, ‘when I retire I’m going to do this or that? When I retire I’ll have the time to get around to doing all the things I’ve wanted to do, but I was too busy. And how often has it ever worked out? Why wait for retirement, do it now.
We are so like Elisha and the people in the gospel. We are so often, ‘a round to it’ people. One of these days I’ll get back to church, one of these days I’ll try to spend some time in quiet and prayer, one of these days I’ll take my faith seriously. One of these days, but right now I’m too busy.
A friend of mine was telling me about a friend of hers who was dying of cancer. I guess she’d been a very busy, active person, raising a family, being the chauffer driving children to hockey, soccer, and ballet lessons, whatever. And as she lay dying she said to her friend, “I always thought that at some time in my life I would have the time, the leisure to take my spiritual life seriously. I’d get around to it.”
Remember Harry Chapan’s song “The Cat’s in the Cradle”? It could be the theme song for ‘around to it’ people – I’m busy to spend time with you now, but one of these day… and of course in the song what goes around comes around: the father not having time for his young son and the grown son being too busy with his life to have time for his aging father, the refrain of the song is ‘but we’ll get together soon son, we’ll get together soon.”
Remember the saying, ‘carpe diem’, seize the day? Today is all we have. Yesterday is gone, who knows if there will be a tomorrow?
Today’s scripture could really make us face our ‘around to it’ attitude toward life, toward our faith, toward our relationships. Today’s scripture show us the insufficiency of our ‘one of these days’ attitudes. Why wait for spring? Why wait til someone dies before we realize and tell them how important they were to us? Why wait for a stroke of a heart attack before we appreciate our good health? Why wait for a family tragedy or serious illness before we think about God, about prayer? Why wait to tell someone we are sorry for what we said or did, why wait to tell someone we forgive them for the hurt they caused us? Why wait?
As we continue to celebrate this Mass, we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we face the ‘around to it’ situations in our lives, as regards God, our family, our friends. May we be blessed with the grace to do what must be done, to say what should be said, to heal what can be healed – now, this day?