I'll think about that tomorrow.
Fr Austin and I were talking about getting something done—or rather, not getting something done because we were procrastinating—and we both suddenly uttered the phrase “I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow”, one of the great lines at the end of the classic movie Gone With the Wind. Scarlet O’Hara is faced with the unpleasantness of a major decision, a decision that could change her life, and she says that line, putting today’s decision off till tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Who has done that? Raise your hands! Me too, guilty!
Like right now, I have a box of thank you cards sitting on my desk, I’ve been meaning to send some thank you notes for gifts I received at Christmas, and what’s today, the 21st?--many tomorrows after Christmas---and believe me, I’ve looked at those thank you cards every day, and I keep saying to myself I’ve got to get to them, this is getting ridiculous, it’ll be summertime and I’ll really feel guilty. But somehow, at the end of every day, I’ll think about doing them tomorrow. I mean, don’t we all put off things that are tedious, or challenging, or unpleasant? Maybe it’s exercise, or balancing the books, or throwing out your hoarder stuff.
Or maybe it’s harder still. Maybe there’s this friend who is a little mad at you for something, and you know that you should do something, call him, meet with her, maybe it requires an apology in all humility, but, “I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow,” and of course the longer you wait the harder it gets, and the opportunity may even disappear. A million excuses, you can find a million excuses to wait till tomorrow.
Of course, tomorrow may not come, you know. Maybe this is the last moment, the last hour, the last day. It could be, you know. There’s no guarantee for any one of us, no one. And that might not matter so much when it comes to the exercise routine, but when it comes to the friend you’ve hurt or the wife who needs to hear how much she’s loved, or the child who hasn’t had a hug in a while, well, the Scarlet O’Hara act doesn’t fly very well after you’ve flown the coop.
Seize the day, huh?
That seems to be the theme of all the readings today—Jonah going around Nineveh, telling everyone their number’s up, get your act together now; Paul yelling at the Corinthians that their “time is short…the world as we know it is passing away”; and of course Jesus, in the gospel, crying out to everyone who could hear that ‘the reign of God is at hand’ and fingering Simon and Andrew and James and John out of their fishing boats to come with him to fish for people. And here’s the remarkable thing: not one of them said, “I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow”. No, it says in the gospel, “They immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers”.
Seize the day.
O.K. Let me ask you some questions.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, is he your Lord and Savior?
Do you believe in his mission on earth to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners, to announce favor and vindication from God?
Do you believe that Jesus is the light and love of your life?
Are you a follower of Jesus, do you believe that he is calling out to you, inviting you to come join him in his mission?
O.K., then, let’s go. Altar servers—get the cross. Let’s go, now, immediately, not tomorrow, now, let’s go fish some people. Leave your stuff here, just let it all go. Come on, who’s coming right now?
Where are we going? To bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken-hearted, to free the captives!
What’s the matter? Why aren’t you coming? Tell me why you can’t come right now, immediately? Why can’t you just leave everything behind and go become fishers of people in need of the love of Jesus Christ?
What’s that? Your job? Your mortgage? Leave them!
Your children, your parents? Bring ‘em!
Your responsibilities? What’s more important and responsible than to follow Jesus and bringing his good news to the suffering world?
Don’t you think that people on drugs out there need to have Jesus’ touch? Don’t you think that people who are dying, who are lonely, who are depressed need someone to come to them with Jesus’ love? Don’t you think that our government leaders need someone to shine the truth of God’s justice upon them, to remind them that we need to serve one another?
Who’s going to do it, if not you? When is the pain and the sin of the world going to be stopped, if not now?
It’s not that easy, is it? Of course not. I'm not sure I could do it, I’d really need someone to put a bomb under me to get me to drop everything and immediately follow the direct route of Jesus’ teaching. I have a million excuses, some of them good ones, and anyway radical discipleship doesn’t work very well in our world today.
Of course it wasn’t so easy in Jesus’ day either. Look at poor Zebedee, father of James, who was left alone in his boat to haul in the fish and try to scrounge up a living for himself, his wife and the rest of the family. Someone had to stay behind, someone had to pay the bills. And maybe that’s why Jesus didn’t call out to Zebedee, maybe he knew that, knew that the young men had more freedom and more zeal and more stamina, even, for the tough road ahead—remember that crucifixion lay at the end of that road. And so maybe that’s our out—maybe Jesus didn’t want us all to go follow him immediately, to drop everything and become fishers of men and women.
But I don’t know. Isn't radical discipleship what we are all really called to? Isn't it true that being a follower of Jesus is going to demand some extraordinary things of us right now? And really, Isn’t it possible now, immediately, as soon as we leave this place…instead of going to the diner or the movie theater or the gym or wherever you’re going after this, isn’t it possible to go visit your aunt who never gets out, isn’t it possible, now, to go make peace with your warring brother or sister or parent or child or friend, to whom you haven’t spoken in three years? Why can’t we drop, immediately, all our secret envies and jealousies with our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors and swallow our egos to praise and raise them up? And can’t we reach into our pockets, literally, pull out of our wallets that cash we want but don’t really need, can’t we give some of our wealth right now to someone who could really use it? Why can’t we make a commitment today to right an injustice in our neighborhood, our city, our country or our world? Can’t we, today, right now, make an effort to show our thanks for all the graces and gifts we have and continue to receive from God?
“I can’t think about that right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow!” . My brothers and sisters, that doesn’t work for disciples of Jesus, whom we all claim to be. Seize the day, come after me, he says, right now, immediately. Not after we check out our Facebook feed.
Let’s pray, that’s the least we can do, pray that we have the courage to follow him radically, pray at least for the desire to follow him really radically, so that one day we may be able to literally drop everything and walk out that door in his footsteps. That would be something!