I think you will recognize the first lines of the reading from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians because we read them every Ash Wednesday. St. Paul reminds us that there is no time like the present for turning to the Lord. The reason is simple. The present is all we are guaranteed. We may not have any future. We never know when God will call us home. So now is the time to turn to the Lord.
I once knew of a friar who was on the mission band of our province. The men on the mission band were solely occupied in preaching retreats and parish missions. This particular friar always made a statement in the very first conference or sermon: “Someone has died during every retreat that I have ever preached.” As you might imagine, many people were concerned upon hearing this. He would go to the confessional immediately upon finishing the conference. The lines would be lengthy.
When I inquired whether there was any truth in his statement, he said: “What matters is that they believed it and acted upon it. They realized that procrastination could have drastic effects.”
I am not going to make such a claim today. Obviously you would see through it inasmuch as I offer a homily here almost every day. However, I did have one experience at the Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago where I was invited to preach on the First Friday of November. Because it was November, I chose to speak about Death and Dying. In the middle of my conference, one lady slumped to the floor. Indeed, she had died as I was speaking of dying. After the EMT’s took her body away, one of the participants came to me and said, “What a wonderful way to go! If she had been at home, she might not have been discovered for days.” Rather than finish the conference, we all decided to go to the chapel and offer prayers for her repose.
Now is the acceptable time for each of us to turn to the Lord.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator