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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Time is running out

This week's reflection helps us to take stock of the way that we are using the gifts that have been entrusted to us: time, talents and gifts, and to focus our attention on what really matters.

It’s not too late

At the beginning of July, I made a mental note of all the things I wanted to accomplish during these summer months: books I wanted to read, projects I wanted to complete, places I wanted to visit, people I wanted to catch up with ...  I haven’t quite completed the list yet; thank goodness there are still a few more days before the rhythm of life changes and other routines set in …

Have you ever noticed how every time we read a passage from scripture, it somehow speaks to our current situation?  Today is no exception.  Jesus was speaking with various groups of people as he made his way to Jerusalem.  From time to time, his listeners would ask questions about his teachings as they walked along beside him.  One of these people, who perhaps was being challenged by something he had heard Jesus say, asked a question: Lord, will only a few be saved? (Lk 13:23)  If we are honest with ourselves, we too will recognize the need to ask such a question when we are alone with Jesus in prayer, and the answer is always sobering: Strive to enter through the narrow door (Lk 13:24).  In other words, don’t procrastinate.  If you are really serious about wanting to follow Jesus, don’t allow yourself to be distracted.

The good news is that Jesus wants us to be with him.  He is constantly at work, giving us opportunities, pointing out the path that leads toward the door that we must enter.  He knows us even better than we know ourselves: he knows the work that we strive to accomplish, he knows the thoughts that sometimes distract us (cf Is 66:18) and still he continues to gather us together so that he can help us to recognize the times when we might have strayed from the path, so that he can point us in the right direction, so that we can find the doorway that we will need to enter.

Some of the things on my wish list for these months of summer have already been accomplished, but there are still others that need to be attended to.  Luckily, there is still time to work at it, but not too much time.  It’s good that we have these opportunities when the Lord encourages us not to procrastinate too much, and its good that we have the words of scripture to remind us not to lose focus of what is truly important.  Like every parent, there are times when God needs to re-focus us and this is not always easy because the human heart usually tries to resist correction.

Saint Paul reminds us though that we should not ignore the reminders that we receive from the Lord, nor should we become discouraged because the Lord disciplines the one whom he loves (Heb 12:6) and wants us to succeed in our attempts to follow in his footsteps.  Even if we should stray from the path, and even if we should stray often, God constantly keeps calling us back, refocusing us on what is truly important.

Let us take a moment in silence now to recognize God who is here in our midst.  Let us renew our resolve to be present to God.  Let us ask for the strength of our faith to help us to see the trials that we must endure as opportunities to help us grow, so that we will be able to recognize the peaceful fruit of righteousness that is being prepared for us (Heb 12:11).
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