God. Here and Now.

I’d like to share with you something a wise old priest told me some 40 years ago. It changed my life. It can change anyone’s.

First, you need to know the turmoil I was in as I contemplated whether or not I could live life as a priest. Back and forth I went; sometimes I felt confident and excited about this way of life. Other times (equal in frequency) I felt overwhelmed by my selfishness and ability to find fault with everything and everybody. How could I possibly be a priest with such an attitude?

So all tied up in knots, I went to my friend Fr. Francis. “Father”, I said, “I don’t know if I can do this (priesthood). But I don’t want to let God down. If I leave, maybe God will be upset with me.”

Fr. Francis laughed. “Tim, do you think God needs you? God will accomplish his will either with you or without you. Nothing can keep God from finishing what he’s started. Bottom line . . . God doesn’t need you Tim.”

I was shocked. “You mean I’m free to leave? God won’t be mad at me?” “Yes, you’re free to leave. He won’t be mad.”

I can’t describe the huge weight that lifted off my shoulders at that moment. Suddenly it became clear what God was doing. He was offering an invitation. And it was just that . . . an invitation, a gift.

Did I have to accept it? No. Would there be other gifts and invitations? Yes. Could I choose another way of life that would be pleasing to God? Of course. That’s the way God is. He never gives up on us. Never takes his ball and goes home.

But . . . . . . . . God knows our deepest happiness and has a grace (gift) prepared to offer us if we want to say “yes”.

So let’s talk about you. What is God offering you to participate in? The answer most times comes in looking at the “here and now”. What’s your situation? Married? Children? Student? Single? Sad? Feeling blessed? Need money? Worried?

Whatever and wherever you find yourself – – – There is God’s Spirit. In each of these situations there is work to be done. This present moment contains an invitation to cooperate with God in bringing goodness (Christ) to the world.

We can wish we were somewhere else. Perhaps it was our thoughtlessness or selfishness that got us where we are. In the end it doesn’t matter. What matters is “right now”. God is with you (Emmanuel). What do you feel called to do with God’s help?

And it’s in saying “yes” to God and his invitation that we discover a “lightness” to God’s will. A new purpose suddenly appears where before there was confusion, frustration, sadness. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. And you will find rest . . . . for my yoke is easy, my burden light.” Mt. 11:30

Today we begin a new year. Maybe this time we can begin to see the invitation God gives to be partners in the work He wants to accomplish through you.

“Lord, here I am. You know I’d be in a better place if I’d only listened to you. But that doesn’t matter now. What matters is that, with your help, I start to do what you’ve put into my heart to do. You’ve been there all along, haven’t you? But now Lord I see. And now I want to do things your way. Please help me.”

Happy New Year. God is with you.

Fr. Tim