The Present Moment – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet’s Homily August 31, 2019

“Have you ever said to yourself or ever heard the phrase, ‘I can’t wait until this happens or I can’t wait until I have that’?  You know it’s a phrase that I used to use all the time. In college and then when I went to the seminary my best friend now called me out.  He told me, ‘Stop wasting your life way.’ I asked him, ‘What do you mean by that?’ He says, ‘You’re always wishing for something else, but if you’re always wishing for the future, you’ll never appreciate the present moment.’  And that always stuck with me.  How often in our lives do we lose a present moment?  How often in our lives do we wish we could be present to the people in front of us or even to ourselves?  Nowadays we can go into any office or any home and you never see someone just sit in silence, appreciating the moment, but we’re always looking at our devices, we’re always looking for something more, in some ways we’re always grasping for the future in hope of something better.

Today in the Gospel, Jesus tells us that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.  You know, the thing about humility is everyone wants it, but we don’t know how to get it, but let me try to explain this for you. It’s something that helped me is that the root word of human is humor.  It means to be grounded, to be earthly and really to be present to live is to be truly human. To be truly human is to live in the moment, to be grateful for what we have, so it means to be grounded to be earthly, but when we start grasping for more than we are and in some ways we’re lifting ourselves above where we are and the only way to the ground level, the earthly, the grounded is to be humiliated or to humble yourself and the interesting thing is that both of those words have the same Latin root humor, to be earthly to be grounded to lower yourself, but that means just to be grateful for who you are, to be human.  You know, in the book of Genesis the story came that Adam and Eve were made from the ground, the dirt, to be earthly to be grounded. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase when you talk about someone you say, ‘Wow, they’re grounded, they’re just grounded in what they are, they’re real, they’re genuine in who they are.’ And that’s what we want to be, but how do we do that? How do we truly be human? How do we be grateful for what we have? They key is to not always grasp at the future. It’s to be grateful. How often are we grateful for the things in front of us? A good rule of thumb, and maybe try it tonight and every other night, is that reflect on your day and think of three things you’re grateful for.  Someone once told me when I was upset to think of fifteen things you’re grateful for and I thought it was ridiculous, but if you try it fifteen things is a lot and you know, the first couple of things is I’m grateful it’s a sunny day, I’m grateful for the clothes on my back, but once you get to about ten, you really have to dig deep and really look at your life. What are you grateful for? Well you know, after that practice I was no longer upset. To be truly human is to be grateful. To be truly present in our lives is to just be grateful for what we have and this day, this weekend, we start the world day of prayer for the care of creation and Pope Francis designates this day all the way until October 4th for us to reflect on our lives, to reflect on creation.  Are we taking good care of it? Are we really being respectful of it? Are we grateful for it? So this weekend, let us reflect on the things we are grateful for and give praise to our God. As you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you, let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and courage to bring this to Him, things we’re grateful for but also bring the difficulties in our lives. If we always wish for something in the future, what is it? Bring those struggles, those temptations to the Lord so that he can help purify our hearts so that one day we can be grateful in love as he has loved us. Amen.”