Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

[Scripture Readings: Is 66:18-21; Heb 12:5-13; Lk 13:22-30 ]

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. This journey would carry him all the way to Calvary. He would not pass this way again. The people in the cities and towns along the way were dealing with their last opportunity to hear Jesus. How many seized the opportunity? The gospel seems to suggest there were not very many. The disciples walking with Jesus form a small band of travelers. Therefore, someone asked: “Lord, are they few in number who are to be saved?

Jesus responds with a brief story about people who let the opportunities in life pass them by. They wait too long; finally the door closes and they can no longer go through it. More than that, they will see others who had less opportunities seize the hour and come from east and west, north and south, to enter the kingdom. Some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last.

St. Benedict urges us to seize the opportunity: “Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you. … If we wish to reach eternal life, even as we avoid the torments of hell, then-while there is still time, while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all these things by the light of life-we must run and do now what will profit us forever.”

We shall pass through this world but once. Any good I can do, any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again. I’m reminded of a boy scout named David Philips who told this story about himself.

He was at camp in the summer of 1931. His Mom and Dad drove up with some family friends. His Dad wanted to give them a tour of the camp. David grumbled to himself: :”I’ll be stuck with Mom.” He dreaded his friends seeing him fussed over by his mother. He and his Mom headed to the bunkhouse. She said, “You’re so tan and reached for his hand.” David walked a little faster. “I’ve missed you so much,” she said. At the cabin she tried to give him a little hug, but David groaned and pulled away. “Mom, what will the guys think?” Looking a little hurt she asked, “Are you enjoying the camp?” “Yeah,” he muttered, thinking, “I wish she would leave me alone.” After what seemed an eternity it was time to go. She held out her hand and asked him to walk her to the car. He shook his head. “All right, honey, it was wonderful to see you.” She stroked his cheek and added, “I love you.” Then headed for the car.

I flopped down on the bunk. The sad look in Mom’s eyes when I refused her hug kept coming back to me. Something told me to go and tell my Mom that I love her. I resisted but the thought came back stronger than ever. Go now. Go!” I got up and ran down the path. “Mom, wait!” I called. She turned, a great big smile breaking across her face. This time when she opened her arms I rushed right into them. We held each other tightly. “Mom, I’m sorry, I love you!” I cried. The strength of her embrace told me she understood.

I never had that chance again. She died in a car accident on the way home. The others in the car only had minor injuries. What sustained me through that devastating loss and beyond, was the assurance that God understood, and gave me the chance to feel my mother’s warm, loving touch one last time(Guideposts, Aug. 1999, p. 50).

Let us become more sensitive to the opportunities that are ours today. Seize the moment. Enter that narrow door while it is still open: say you’re sorry, write that caring letter, give that warm hug, listen to that lonely person, serve the hungry, comfort the sick, teach the student. Christ is passing by.