July 31, 2012 - Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Jeremiah 14:17-22
Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13
Matthew 13:36-43

I do not like this interpretation, at least in the first way I understood it. How can the weeds be called the “sons of the Evil One”? Does this mean that the world is divided into good people and bad people and the good people were put there by God and the bad people were put there by the Devil? If this interpretation were our only Scripture, that would be the most reasonable understanding, but it is not.

We know that God created Adam and Eve. The devil only corrupted the good that God created. He did not create his own people. It was a child of Adam and Eve who committed the first murder. Indeed, it was Adam and Eve themselves who committed the first sin. How can Jesus say that the devil snuck into the field and planted the bad people when he knows that the bad people are not weeds: they are wheat gone bad? God created all of the humans who have ever existed. He created Mary and all the saints, and he created Judas and every wicked person, including Satan himself. Jesus says that the weeds are the sons of the Evil One, but Jesus also says in another place that the Evil One, Satan, is the father of lies, so the weeds must be lies, not people.

The official translation says “all who cause others to sin”, but there is no reason to translate this as if it were people. The devil does not plant people in the world. He plants lies that trap people, that cause them to sin. But what of the evildoers? These are clearly people, but they were not planted by the devil.

The wheat grows up surrounded by weeds. It was supposed to be a beautiful wheat field, but now it is a mess. As always happens, some of the wheat has succumbed to the weeds. People have believed the lies. What happens when wheat is weakened by the surrounding weeds? It fails to produce fruit. It is just a stalk without any grains. When the angels harvest the wheat, these empty stalks will be counted as weeds. So we should not understand this parable as if the world was made of wheat and weeds, good people and bad. We are all good seed, but unless we grow above the weeds and produce the fruit expected of us, we will not be counted as wheat when the harvest comes.

July 30, 2012 - Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 13:1-11
Deuteronomy 32:18-21
Matthew 13:31-35

It is possible that what happens in the first reading gets lost in the language. God tells Jeremiah to not wash his underwear for awhile, then bury it, then show it to people. Why did God make Jeremiah go through all that today? Could he not have just stood up in Jerusalem and said, “What you are doing is wrong.”? He could have, and he did many times, but the situation called for something a little more memorable. It is easy to forget about the odd street preacher who complains about our sinful ways, but if a man shows you his filthy, rotten underwear and says, “You are like this underwear”, you are not going to forget it.

In the Gospel today, we have two parables about parables. The little mustard seed becomes a bush, and the little yeast leavens all the dough. Jesus could have just given his teaching straight; he could have written a catechism with everything carefully explained, but instead he gave us parables.

Parables are more powerful than their explanations. This is a little ironic since it is now my job to explain these parables, but I know that you might forget my homily by the time you finish lunch. Certainly a week from now you would not be able to quote it all back to me. But the parables stick with you. The mustard seed that grows into a bush, the yeast that leavens the whole dough are not as easily forgotten as a theological explanation can be. These little ideas start as simple analogies, but they can grow in our souls and change us. They are like mustard seeds or a little yeast, and what these tiny things can accomplish in us is simply amazing.

The greatest parable is the paschal mystery. A simple story about a man who died for us though he was innocent, then rose from the dead because he was God and could not be conquered by death is as simple a story as any parable. This story and all the parables that Jesus told have such power if we will water the seed or knead the dough, if we will meditate on the mystery and turn it over and over in our minds. Given time we will be amazed at how much these simple stories have done in our souls. Sometimes a little unforgettable idea is far more powerful than a 5 volume book.

July 29, 2012 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18
Ephesians 4:1-6
John 6:1-15

If someone were to go through the Old Testament and rank people according to how impressive the miracles they did were, the list would probably start with Moses, then Elijah, then Elisha. Elisha was the servant of Elijah, and when Elijah went up into heaven on a chariot of fire, he left Elisha a double portion of his spirit which allowed Elisha to work miracles like Elijah did.

So the contrast today between our first reading and our Gospel is very significant. Elisha fed 100 men with 20 barley loaves. Jesus fed 5000 men with 5 barley loaves, and he provided a fish side dish. He proves thereby that his is greater than Elisha, and not just a little bit greater. Elijah fed 3 people with a little flour and some oil for a couple years, which is impressive, but Jesus still has him beat with this miracle. Now Moses fed 2 million people with bread from heaven for over 40 years, but as we are going to hear over the next few weeks, Jesus has him beat too because he has fed billions of Christians with his Body and Blood for going on 2000 years now.

So Jesus is a bigger deal than anybody in the Old Testament. He is objectively a bigger deal than anybody ever. John Lennon once said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, but by any objective measure he was wrong. If the Beatles all came here to play next year’s block party, a lot of people would show up, but if Jesus were coming to town tomorrow, I can guarantee that he would draw a bigger crowd.

But we all know that Jesus is here. He comes every day in the Eucharist. And hundreds of millions of people come each week to find him, even though we cannot see him. And millions of people come every day to find him whom they cannot see. Because it is not about the miracles. The feeding is a symbol. Yes, Jesus can satisfy the hunger of a crowd, but that is not the point. The point is that Jesus can satisfy a desire deeper than hunger. If Jesus was just a free grocery store, we would not worship him. There is something greater here than loaves and fish.

We humans are just bundles of desire, looking all over the world for satisfaction. Our soul cries out like an infant, unable to put its desire into words. We try to quiet it with pacifiers. There are many pacifiers in this world: food, alcohol, sex, entertainment. Sometimes the pacifier works awhile, but then our soul begins crying out again. Some people try to keep up a variety of these pacifiers, switching whenever one has lost its power. Some people remain bored and unhappy as they continually go to the same pacifier looking for the satisfaction they have never found there.

We, however, know what our soul is crying out for. We want love, and not the imperfect love that any human being can give us. This too can be just another pacifier. We want the perfect love of God. Without a doubt, God does love us. He is love, and he created us. It is left for us to recognize his love.

Once we do, once our greatest desire is satisfied by the love of God, every other desire can fall into place. We will eat what is good for us. We will love other people and be loved by them. We will enjoy the world as God meant us to enjoy it. But so long as our deepest desire goes unsatisfied, our relationship with food and alcohol and other people can never be quite right. First things first and the second things fall into place.

The reason that Jesus is bigger than Moses, Elijah, or anyone else is that he is not providing food or entertainment or freedom. He can easily provide all of this, but what he is offering is so much greater. He is offering us himself. This is why we eat his Body and drink his Blood. What clearer way could he possibly use to express to us that he is giving us himself?

Can you imagine a universe without God? It is an illusion. The reality would be God without a universe. Reality needs a fundamental fact, the one thing that is just there, the essence of reality. The temptation is to think of empty, black space as the fundamental fact, but it is not. What is reality at its most basic? It is just God, existing.

God is not just another character in the play. He is the author whose existence does not depend on the play at all. The truth of reality is that God exists. That is just the way things are. Anything else could have been different, anything else at all, but the existence of God is the one fundamental fact. This is why it makes no sense to ask where God came from: he did not come; he just is the one who is.

This is what St. Paul means when he says “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Our relationship with God is not something we finish so that we can get back to real life. Our relationship with God is real life. Everything else either contributes to it or is a distraction from it.

It is not easy to live this way. Our surface desires call loudly, insisting that we want the little things. We can only hear our deep desire when we are quiet, when we let the turmoil of this life settle down, and we realize that half of those surface desires were for what we never really wanted anyway, and that there is something we wanted more than anything else.

You have heard the call of this desire. You know that God can offer you more than you can ask or imagine. Every single one of you is called to live forever with God. “Brothers and sisters, I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.” You don’t want money. You don’t want a double cheeseburger. You don’t want another drink. You want God, and he wants to give himself to you.

July 28, 2012 - Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

What does this mean: “The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!”? Israel, the northern kingdom of Hebrews, had been destroyed, but the Assyrian army was not able to approach Jerusalem because the Lord defended it with a miracle. So the people had begun to think that it did not matter whether they sinned. If God was unwilling to let Jerusalem be conquered because he loved his temple so much, the Jews had nothing to be afraid of, no matter what they did. God would never follow through on a punishment because of this technicality.

God is letting them know that he is perfectly willing to destroy his temple. The Jews are his people, but if they do not act with justice and mercy, what is the point? Why would he protect them from the Babylonians if they are just as bad as the Babylonians, or even worse? In retrospect we can see that God never actually gave up on his people. The exile to Babylon was in some ways the beginning of the Jewish religion. It was there that they got serious about worshipping God and reading Scripture.

The plans of God are so complex that we are really hopeless when we try to anticipate them. The best we can hope for is to appreciate his handiwork in retrospect. He allows the wheat and the weeds to grow next to each other. This is not because he is ignorant of proper agricultural techniques. He has plans for that wheat, and it is stronger for having grown up with weeds. The enemy snuck in and planted weeds, but God will make all things work for good.

He let Jerusalem be destroyed and the Jews be taken into exile, but they came back 70 years later with a much stronger and more profound faith which had been lying dormant in them for the past thousand years. When Jesus arrived 500 years later, it was to possibly the most religious culture in the history of the world, a culture ready to hear his message, a culture where a fisherman and a tentmaker were ready to be Apostles to the ends of the earth, above all a culture that prepared a young girl to be sinless and accepting of the vocation of being God’s mother. Salvation is from the Jews, who suffered as a people because God had chosen them for this high calling.

July 23, 2012 - Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

After the violence of this past weekend, many people are asking a question, but it is the wrong question. They are wondering why. “Why does something like this happen?” But, as I said, this is the wrong question. The right question is “Why doesn’t this happen every day?” I will tell you that it is not because there is any shortage of selfish human beings who care more about what they want than how that would affect others. The selfishness that was the foundation of that act is the same selfishness that can be found in my heart and yours. It was G. K. Chesterton who gave that famous answer to the question, “What is wrong with the world?” They asked “what is wrong with the world?”, and he answered, “I am.”

Original sin has made nearly every human being into a creature capable of great evil. In the history of the world we humans have done such terrible things to each other that it seems that there is no depth of evil to which we cannot sink, enormous evils and every sort of evil. And it is no good just putting that evil on another. They are human just like us. Their capacity for evil is our capacity for evil. It is somewhat comforting to consider them as monsters, a different kind of person than we are, but they are human, and we are human.

Of course, our own selfishness has probably never manifested itself in such an act of violence, largely because of laws and social constructs. Yet I am sure, if we honestly search our souls, each of us could remember something we have done of astounding selfishness. The man in the first reading today knows what I am talking about. He asks “with what shall I come before the Lord?” What offering would be sufficient for my sins? A thousand ram? Ten-thousand barrels of oil? “Shall I give my first-born for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

The answer is none of these. Nothing we can provide is sufficient to purify us of our sins. Only one sacrifice has the power to do this: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. We are unable to provide a sufficient sacrifice, so God provides a lamb for us. This sacrifice has the power to forgive every sin, no matter how horrible. If that man in Colorado seeks forgiveness through the grace of that sacrifice, he will be forgiven, just like the Ninevites were forgiven, just like we are forgiven.

July 18, 2012 - Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16
Psalm 94:5-10, 14-15
Matthew 11:25-27

The economy of salvation is the official theological name that we give to how things work. To learn about the economy of salvation is to learn how God is saving us. Economy here comes from the Greek word for household. Economy does not mean financial but the house rules of the universe.

There are many aspects to the economy of salvation, but our readings today illustrate one clearly: God never works directly when he can work indirectly. This rule is why the common statement, often used to denigrate the communion of saints: “I like to pray directly to God” is just silly. God does not do anything directly. The Father sends the Son. The Son sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts through human beings. This is all very inefficient, but it is God’s way of acting.

In the economy of this world, we are always trying to cut out the middle man, because the more efficient the process, the less waste there is. In the economy of salvation, God includes as many middle men and women as he possibly can. He could have destroyed Israel, but he chose to do it through the Assyrians. He does not punish them directly. He empowers the Assyrians to punish them. God is angry that Assyria has overstepped its bounds, but he would not have that problem if he had just punished Israel directly.

No one has seen the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. It would be more efficient if God revealed himself to us directly. Perhaps we can understand the inefficiency of the Trinity, or at least accept it, but the inefficiency of relying on imperfect humans to reveal God is very frustrating. Our relationship with God happens through the Church, despite the sin and inadequacy of most every member of the Church. How many people have broken their relationship with God because of their experience of the sinful humanity of the Church? It would seem more logical, more efficient if God would just work with each person directly.

Of course, really, we understand that God knows what he is doing. This inefficiency is just love: the love of the Father for the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the love that he wants us to have for each other. He does not want to save us on our own, individually. He wants to save a Church, an assembly of people in love with each other, and he wants us to be a part of that Church.

July 9, 2012 - Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22
Psalm 145:2-9
Matthew 9:18-26

The first reading today is characteristic of how, when Israel looked back on the Good Old Days, they thought of the time spent wandering in the desert. They did not usually think of the greatest political strength reached under Solomon or the first years in the Holy Land under Joshua. They thought about the forty years that the entire nation of Israel wandered in the desert. "Thus says the LORD: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. She shall respond there as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt."

But these forty years were a punishment from God. Because of their lack of faith in him, he condemned them to wander for forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. How is it that a time of punishment came to be considered the good old days? Because it was a time when food, manna, fell from the sky. Water came forth from a rock. And above all, they followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. It would not be correct to say that this was God, but it could be called the finger of God pointing them in the right direction.

At other times in their history, they had better food and drink and better homes and beds, but during those years wandering in the desert, they had a close relationship with the presence of God that could never be equaled. Everyone, rich and poor, depended entirely on God for their daily food and drink. Everyone, rich and poor, went wherever God told them to go. God spoke face to face with Moses, telling the people exactly what he wanted from them. Since the days of Adam and Eve until the days of Jesus Christ, this was the nearest that humans and God ever were.

In each person’s life, there are good times and bad, times of success and times of failure, times of plenty and times of need, times of sickness and times of health, but none of those factors matter when we look back on our life. The best of times were when we were closest to God, and sometimes that was in the desert.

July 7, 2012 - Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 9:11-15
Psalm 85:9-14
Matthew 9:14-17

The prophet Amos, whom we have been reading all week, has some very serious accusations for the Israelites. They have done some terrible things. He also is telling them that because of their crimes they will be punished by God with war and exile. It is a harsh book, but it still ends with comfort. Today, God says, “I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel.” Even in the midst of the accusation and punishment, there is comfort. Because God loves us.

It is a difficult theological problem, trying to consider whether what we suffer is the punishment of God for our sins or simply the random situation of life. On the one hand, God does seem to punish people for their sins throughout the Scriptures, exactly as we see here in the book of Amos, but on the other hand, people do not seem to suffer in proportion to their sins. Even here in the book of Amos, the Israelites are being punished because they afflicted the poor. So the suffering of the poor was not the punishment of God. Moreover, the punishment of God was war and exile. Surely the poor suffered through this punishment as well, the good with the bad.

So if we say that all suffering is punishment from God, we are clearly wrong, but it would also seem to be wrong to say that suffering is never punishment from God. How do we tell the difference? The classic way is to consider all the suffering of other people as simply suffering, deserving our sympathy and not our judgment, and to consider all of our own suffering as punishment, because we know our sins and we know that we deserve it.

Some people consider this method as too harsh. If I consider every sickness, every injury, every setback in my life as a punishment from God, will it be too difficult, or even impossible, to see God as love? If God loves me, why would he cause me to suffer? Then we should remember the reading today. Even before he has carried out his harsh punishment, the Lord is already speaking of restoring his people. The Lord is never out to hurt us. Everything he does is for our own good. If God is ever punishing us for our sins, then his punishment is yet another expression of his love. He loves us and does not want anything other than our good.

July 6, 2012 - Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Psalm 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
Matthew 9:9-13

In the first reading we hear about people who are consumed with desire. Even during the day of rest, all they can think of is the object of their desire. “When will this feast or Sabbath be over”, they wonder, “so that we can get back to business.” And what business? Their desire for profit is so great that they cheat and steal and lie.

Oh that we would have a desire for God like their desire! The children of this world are always wiser in their ways than the children of the kingdom. If only I could be as motivated to serve God as some people are to make a million dollars. There are people who will sacrifice every good thing for money and fame. How is it then that I find it so difficult to give up mediocre things in order to follow God?

Perhaps this is what Jesus means when he says that he wishes we were hot or cold rather than lukewarm. If we were cold, like these merchants who have a great desire to get back to cheating and stealing, who can barely contain themselves through one day off, then we could turn this desire to something good. Which is easier, to work up a desire that we do not have or to redirect a strong desire in the wrong direction?

There are many examples of saints who redirected misguided desires. St. Ignatius was a soldier who loved glory in battle, and he became a soldier of Christ. St. Matthew, as we read in the Gospel today, went from collecting taxes, being so in love with money that he collaborated with the Roman government, to being in love with Jesus Christ.

I do not know if it is easier to redirect a desire or create a desire. The point is to have a strong desire. If your desire is weak, the thing is to strengthen it. If you have a strong desire for something inferior to God, consider how you can turn it to him. I think we have need of a little of both. I need to desire God more, and I need to turn my desires to him. I do not have the strong desire for God that the saints had, but I can take comfort in my desire to have a desire for God. So long as I do not let go of this desire for a desire, there is a chance for me.

July 5, 2012 - Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 7:10-17
Psalm 19:8-11
Matthew 9:1-8

The prophet Amos in the first reading is speaking the word of the Lord, but the priest Amaziah doubts whether it is really the word of the Lord. The problem of Amaziah is one that we can sympathize with: the word of the Lord is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey, but how do we recognize it when it comes?

Because we know that evil people and misguided people are quick to say that their own ideas are the will of God. Politicians like to speak for God. So also many people with strong opinions like to claim that their own words are the words of the Lord. How was Amaziah supposed to know that Amos was a prophet and not just an annoying person?

I suppose that there was not really anyway to know, not until the words came true. When Israel was invaded and the city destroyed, then Amaziah knew that Amos was a prophet. Perhaps this is not the most convenient way to find out that a prophecy is true. It would be more helpful to believe the prophecy before the invasion, but that is not the point of prophecy. Prophecy does not exist as a form of fortune-telling.

When the prophecy came true, people remembered the prophecy and then they knew that God was always aware of what was going on. This is the first use of prophecy: to prove that God knows everything, even the future.

But even before the prophecy was fulfilled, anyone could look at the prophecy and see whether it was true. Amos said that the invasion would come because Israel was cruel and merciless. Amaziah should not have been so concerned with whether the invasion would come. He should have considered whether the charge was true. Had Israel in fact become cruel and merciless? This is the second use of prophecy: to convict us about the present reality.

Amos came to Israel to remind them that they did not become a nation by their own power. They were a people in covenant with God. Though the rest of the world sinned and got away with it, Israel could not exist if they were not in relationship with God. If we forget where we have come from, it is easier to act as if we were our own gods. This is the third use of prophecy: to remind us of the past and our own history.

July 4, 2012 - Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 5.14-15, 21-24
Psalm 50.7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17 Resp. 23b
Matthew 8.28-34

What is the point of keeping the trappings of Christianity if the heart is gone? There is no point. We should not celebrate the holy days if we no longer believe in the reason behind them, if they have become merely occasions to get drunk and eat too much. This is what the Lord means when he says, “I hate, I spurn your feasts.”

Religion is nothing without faith. Faith without religion is wandering in the wilderness, unsure where to go. Religion without faith is an empty palace, a cathedral where people take tours and look at the impressive stained glass but no one ever prays. Religion can work amazing things in a person who is struggling intellectually. That is not what is meant here. Religion cannot work when a person has rejected the faith. It would be better if those who have in every way rejected the Gospel would not come to the Eucharist. So many today get married because they want a beautiful wedding, but by living together before marriage and rejecting children after marriage, the wedding is empty, like a rotten tree with nothing inside.

Undoubtedly, a person celebrating the 4th of July can increase their patriotism if that has fallen by the wayside, but if someone is actively working to destroy this country but attends a 4th of July barbeque and fireworks and sings the national anthem, they are a hypocrite. So also, if a person is working to destroy the faith by completely ignoring morality and having no interest in repentance and even preaching death and destruction in this culture, yet they attend Mass for the social elements, they are a hypocrite. If a person fails, let them repent, but if a person has no interest in doing good, they should stay away until they are converted.

The demons called Jesus the Son of God, but they were his enemies and he treated them as such. The town saw the power of God in their midst and begged him to leave, so he did. The Church would be better off, not if we got rid of all the sinners, because then we all would have to leave, but if we got rid of all the people who are not even interested in trying. When they leave the Church it is a blessing for us and them. Perhaps someday they will change their mind and come back. In the meantime, it does no good to pretend that those who are against us are with us.

July 3, 2012 - Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 117:1-2
John 20:24-29

St. Thomas the Apostle is remembered primarily for two things: that he was the one who did not believe in the Resurrection, and that he brought Christianity to India. Doubting Thomas is a bit of an unfair reputation. So far as we know, none of the Apostles believed before seeing Jesus except St. John who saw the empty tomb and believed. It is simply that his doubts are recorded in such a powerful fashion as we read today. He immediately believed. He experienced many hardships and went to a faraway land to preach the Gospel. There he was killed for the faith.

He was not a lifelong doubter once he saw the evidence with his own eyes, but it cannot be said simply that Thomas believed because he saw. Many people might have seen the same thing and still doubted. St. Thomas received his faith not by investigation. St. Thomas received his faith from the Father.

Faith is not a human accomplishment. Faith is a gift. Faith is not gritting our teeth and insisting that we will believe. Faith is a gift. Faith is not something we should be proud of as if we were better people than those who do not believe. Faith is something we ought to be grateful for because it is a gift. Faith is something that we ought to ask God for every day. And if we begin to doubt, there are two mistakes we can make: trying to fight the doubts on our own or accepting the doubts as wisdom. If we begin to doubt, we must turn to God and ask for more faith.

We receive knowledge from our parents and the Church. We know about Christianity because of them and the books we read. But faith is something different. If the whole world abandoned Christianity, and it was just you alone with no support, if they all told you that it was pretend, that it was just another story like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, is there something within you that would still believe? Is there something within you right now that believes in God without consideration of any argument or reason? That is faith. It does not seem strong because if we test it ourselves, it will fall apart quickly. The test of our faith comes from the outside: persecution, suffering, martyrdom. That is when we find out how strong faith really is.

July 2, 2012 - Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 2.6-10, 13-16
Psalm 50.16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23 Resp. 22a
Matthew 8.18-22

The presumption behind the Gospel today is the ability of Jesus to read the hearts of those he was speaking to. The scribe says, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” What better statement of Christian discipleship is there? This would be a beautiful prayer, that we would turn to Jesus and say, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus looks at the man’s heart and sees something there which was not explicitly spoken. Jesus has to warn the man because of his false assumption. It seems that the man thought that Jesus was going somewhere, some permanent place of rest. Jesus warns the man that following him does not involve a final destination here on earth. The foxes and the birds have nice homes, but the Son of Man will not rest his head until it is in the borrowed tomb.

Is the scribe ready to follow Jesus wherever, even if there is nowhere to go? Are we ready to follow Jesus in our lives, every day of our lives, despite the fact that he does not seem to be leading us to a den or a nest where we can settle down. Many people spend their whole lives waiting to settle down, and then they will get started. Nothing is taken very seriously until they have arrived at the destination. But the call of God is not always so neat and tidy.

Our only destination is heaven, and it would defeat the purpose of this life to not start living until we get there. We have to live in this moment, wherever we are. This moment is the where God’s grace is for us, because it is real, it is actual, it is not just in our head. This moment is probably not ideal, and it is certainly not stable. But no matter what moments we lived in the past and how we lived them, and no matter what moments we look to and hope for and expect in our future, this is the only moment we can live in: the present moment. So we are going to follow Jesus, not wherever he goes, but wherever he is, wherever he tells us to be, wherever we find ourselves. Wherever we are right now, that is where we are going to follow Jesus. There is no reason to wait. Now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation.