Note: Fr. Ed’s homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time is now available online! Click here to listen.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God!”
On some level, all of us would acknowledge that that is the case: that we are thirsting for more of the presence of the Lord in our lives. St. Augustine’s classic statement to God serves as a kind of constant admonition to us: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts won’t rest until they rest in You.”
Yet often, due to the frequently frantic pace of our lives, we would just be happy for any kind of rest! I know personally, it has been something of a joke over the last several years as I earnestly await the onset of the “summer slow down,” only to realize, one more time, that there is no such thing. This summer was certainly no exception to that. However, as we shift from season to season, this also gives us an opportunity to take stock and make some plans for the next season, i.e. the fall, before it engulfs us with its own needs and agenda.
In particular, fall for many families marks the beginning of the academic season as well as a new beginning for religious education. Fall sports and many other activities also take place, frequently placing more and more demands on us and our time.
Making time for Jesus
Given the upcoming hurricane, now would be a great time to sit down and make some concrete decisions about our fall, especially in terms of our relationships with the Lord Jesus, both individually and as families. Especially for families, frequently the slightly less-structured aspect of the summer may have wreaked havoc with regular family time, especially regular family prayer time.
As fall approaches and some of the schedule becomes better known, now would be a wonderful time to plan out those important events, like when and how often family prayer times are going to be held. We tend to approach our relationship with the Lord Jesus under the delusion that our personal prayer time or our family prayer time will take care of itself. Yet the too often experienced truth is that if we do not take care to concretely schedule it and build it into the very fabric of our lives, it will not happen. Nature abhors a vacuum, and seems to abhor no vacuum more than an unscheduled five minutes in our day!
To take some special care for one of the most important things we can do, both as individuals or as families, is a call on each of our lives. As today’s Gospel warns us, it’s no win to gain the whole world if we lose our souls in the process! With all the things trying to drive families apart, making sure that we do what we can to help them, not only survive, but flourish is certainly what the King of Kings invites us to!
Eyes are watching…
We also teach our kids what is most important not simply by what we say, but by our concrete choices, by how we live. For example, if we teach our kids that the most important time of our week is when we gather for Mass on Sunday, but then we are always late, what does that really say to our kids, especially if we are far more punctual about other activities? I think sometimes we have no idea what kind of lesson we are giving our kids, because we think that they pay more attention to what we say than what we actually do. Of course, it is the reverse that is actually the case—what we do will always win the day, in a conflict with what we say.
Part of the scheduling for our fall for us and our families could also include taking advantage of the Sacraments as a family, especially Confession, and also scheduling some adoration of the Blessed Sacrament time as well. We teach what is important by what we do! Especially if we have kids in the Sacramental prep years, it is crucial to take particular care to demonstrate reverent love of the Lord Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, and to witness to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, perhaps by attending the parish prayer group occasionally as a family. Let’s use this time well, that drawing closer to Him is our greatest desire! Even so, come Lord Jesus! — Fr. Ed