I like everything about being a pastor… except for one thing. Busy-ness. I really hate how busy I am. And, to tell the truth, I really hate how busy you are. What’s worse, I really don’t know how to fix it.
In my life, email gets a lot of the blame. At the moment, my inbox has 257 emails, although I spent hours answering them last week.
I’m not sure what fills your so-called free time, but if you have kids I can bet sports keeps you busier than email.
It’s easy enough to blame it all on the pace of modern life. My grandfather got up around 7:30 and caught the streetcar to work at twenty after eight. He got off the streetcar every night about twenty after five. My father got up at six and was out the door by seven, back home about eleven hours later. I get up at five and finish work at seven or eight in the evening.
And yet the scriptures we hear today suggest that people have always been busy. Elisha wants to fulfill his family duties before he replaces Elijah as the great prophet of Israel. Three potential disciples of Jesus also give reasons why they can’t follow him right away.
What I like about these stories is that the excuses are good ones. Hard to think of better ones—the funeral of a father, a fond farewell to family. Elijah is sympathetic—okay, go and kiss your parents. But Jesus doesn’t buy the excuses—not because he’s mean, but to make a timeless point for us: nothing matters more than following him.
The Psalm today proclaims “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Another translation says “My happiness lies in you alone.”
Obviously, Christians don’t reject the many good things that surround us: family, hiking, sports, parties, and so on. But as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading, we are both flesh and spirit—and the flesh likes to get its own way.
It’s a struggle to put first things first. It’s so tempting to work on email when I should be praying. An earlier start to the hike can be more attractive than getting to Mass. We’re surrounded by things demanding our immediate attention.
The American general and president Dwight Eisenhower coined what’s called the “Eisenhower Principle”: “What’s important is seldom urgent and what’s urgent is seldom important.”
Our spiritual lives are rarely urgent, but always important. They deserve as much planning as our summer holidays, if not more.
So to keep this homily short and to the point, I’d like to issue two challenges for those who’d like to try just a bit harder to answer the call to discipleship.
First, try to fit the 9 a.m. Mass into the family’s crazy schedule for Canada Day. Start the day tomorrow with half an hour of worship, thanking God for all that’s wonderful about our country, and asking him to help us fix all that isn’t.
Second, our parish leaders are hard at work mapping out a discipleship path to share with you in the Fall. Why not get a head start on that path over the summer?
Today's bulletin has a whole page of ideas for a more spiritual summer. Take a copy with you today, and tick off two summertime plans. Then put the bulletin on the frig door, and do a couple of simple but intentional things to move forward on “the path of life.”