Starting Today – Fr. Michael Guastello

Fr. Michael Guastello’s Homily June 30, 2019

“So the Devil calls this meeting of some of his top advisers.  Business is kind of bad down there. There are too many souls that are getting into Heaven and so he wants to brainstorm some ideas about what they should do about it and so one of the demons stands up and says, ‘Well let’s tell the people that there’s no Heaven and that they need to get as much enjoyment and pleasure out of life as possible right now.’  And the Devil says, ‘No, we’ve been using that line for thousands of years now and statistically people still believe in an afterlife. They still believe in Heaven and there really are still too many people who are reading scripture and so they won’t buy that one.’ Another demon steps up and says, ‘Well let’s tell the people that there’s no Hell that everyone is just magically forgiven at the time of death and that there are no consequences to doing evil in the world.’  And the Devil says, ‘No, we’ve tried that one too, especially with some of the dictatorships and regimes of the twentieth century and it worked to some degree, but in some respects it really back fired on us, you know there were a lot of Saints that rose up during that time like Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein.  No, we need something that is more broad and appealing.’  Another demon steps up and says, ‘Well let’s tell the people there’s no hurry that they have plenty of time to change their lives that there’s no hurry to get to Mass this weekend that they can always go to Mass next weekend that there’s always tomorrow to get serious about their own conversion and that they’ll never run out of tomorrows.’  And the Devil smiled and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’

This is a lie that the Devil tries to sell to us that we will never run out of time that we will always have tomorrow that we don’t need to work on growing holiness today or grow in virtue today or get rid of that favorite little sin of ours today.  We can always start to work on all this stuff tomorrow that there will always be tomorrow and maybe there won’t and this is what Jesus is getting at in our Gospel today. His remarks to these would be follows seem a bit cold and callous at first glance I mean these folks just seem as if they want to bury their dead and say goodbye to their families and there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but Jesus sees beyond what they’re telling him.  ‘Well Lord let me just go bury my Father first and then I’ll follow you.’ ‘Let me just say goodbye to my family and then I’ll come follow you.’ What they’re really saying is, ‘Jesus I want to follow you, but later. I want to do this first. I want to do that first and then I’ll come follow you.’ To what Jesus responds in essence, ‘That’s not gonna work. That’s not going to cut it. If you want to follow me, if you really want to be my disciple, the time to start is now, today, not tomorrow, not next week, not after you’ve taken care of this thing or that thing, the time is now.’  And so Jesus is telling these would be followers and us that there will come a time when we will run out of tomorrows when we will run out of time. When a person is young it seems like tomorrows are never ending. When we’re young we can get this false sense that we are immortal even though we know intellectually that this isn’t the case, but we can still act and behave as though we are never going to die, but as we get older we experience more aches and pains, we become more aware that this is not the case and we get more of a sense of our own mortality. Jesus knew that his days were numbered so much so that he predicts it several times in the Gospels.  It was his suffering and cross that he knew were coming, but he also knew that this would lead him to eternal glory with his Father in Heaven. Of course Jesus never says anywhere in scripture that if we follow him we will avoid suffering. He doesn’t say, ‘Follow me and your life will be pain free. Follow me for an easy road, no it’s quite the opposite.’ In fact, he predicts that his followers will suffer, will be persecuted and he exhorts us to take up our cross and follow him because by following him he will help us to handle our suffering more gracefully and graciously.  
To know God, to love God, and to serve God in this life and to be happy with him in the next sums up the purpose of our lives.  Each and every one of us today is called to conversion now. That is to say we are called to imitate our Lord more closely with each passing day of our lives.  It is a lifelong process to be sure and it is a process that all of us are hopefully eager to work toward starting today.”