January 25, 2009


This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. – Mark 1: 15

Some folks unhappy with the way things are, especially in the Church, look back with nostalgia to the “good old days” prior to Vatican II. Of course, the “good old days” were never what they seem through the eyes of memory. They had their problems just as much as we do. Others (if times are difficult & trying enough) look to an apocalyptic future, when this world will have passed away & replaced by a utopia created by God.

Our Lord had a profound awareness of the importance of past & future. The Hebrew tradition partly determined who He was. He also knew that God was going somewhere with this creative order & He spoke about that. But most important of all was the present moment. The best of the past is in the present & the seeds of tomorrow are in the present. Yet it is only in the present that the past can receive meaning & it is only in the present that promises can be fulfilled. The reign of God is at hand. Eternal life is to know God now. This is what makes it possible for our lives to have so much meaning.

Some people find the touch of God in the beauties of nature; but nature is ambiguous: it can be tooth & claw & tragedy as well as beautiful. For some, God touches us through other persons, even the distasteful & obnoxious ones [Mother Teresa of Calcutta : “the poorest of the poor are Jesus in distressing disguise.”]. Some find God in the social issues of our time: poverty, war, violence & terrorism, to give a few examples.

Story of a priest who came from a family well-known for its leadership in the Democratic party: a penitent came to him one day with a sin so terrible he was afraid to confess it. The priest reassured him that no sin is too great to be forgiven & said, “Now tell me, what did you do?” The man said, “Well, I shot that Republican campaign worker who came through town last week.” The priest replied, “I’m not interested in your politics, only in your sins.”

God’s presence in His Church cannot be separated from His presence in the political & social arena. Sometimes, politics is the greatest sin because it is separated from God. How much time, energy & money go into politics with little thought of any ultimate meaning it may have for us?

Whether we are in pain or free from pain, whether rich or poor, alone or with others, God is above all present to us in the sacraments. That’s the one “place” where we can count on finding Him, & they always come to us in the present moment. This is how we find the peace & joy & hope & the ability to love that we all want so very much. Someone once said, “I don’t enjoy Church anymore. All I get out of it is communion.” Well, I can’t think of anything better to get. All the rest is just icing on the cake.

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.” This is the time of our fulfillment & God is present to us now. Does the way we live our lives now reflect the belief we profess? AMEN!