BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time | November 18, 2018
May 21, 2011.
The date the world was supposed to end.
Now, frankly, I was not concerned. But the students I was teaching at the time were convinced that Friday was going to be our final day of class ever.
In fact, they were horrified I was giving them homework. Why would I want them to spend their last few precious hours doing a homework, they demanded to know.
I remember telling them that if none of us survived Saturday, they were exempt from the assignment, which seemed to them a good compromise.
As the bell rang and the kids filed out, a student came up to me and handed me an envelope.
Please read this tonight, Fr. Brian. In case, you know. We’re all dead tomorrow.
So I got home and pulled out the letter. It was two pages long. And in it, the young man just told me how grateful he was for me as a teacher. I gotta admit, I was pretty teary-eyed. But it was the last lines that stuck with me.
I know the world will probably not end tomorrow. But I didn’t want to miss the chance to let you know what you mean to me. Love you Zumdaddy.
I have never forgotten that letter, that moment or that student.
And I couldn’t help but recalling it once again when reflecting on the readings for this weekend.
For as our Church year comes to a close, we are bombarded with images that are frankly terrifying. Suns going dark, stars plunging from the sky.
And like my students, it is so easy to become obsessed with the thought that the world as we know it is coming to an end.
Because let’s be real, at times it does seem like everything is falling apart.
Raging fires sweeping across California and hurricanes laying waste to the Carolinas.
Shootings occurring on such a regular basis that it is hard to keep track of where or when or why.
A new outbreak of ebola here. Racial tensions flaring there.
It is no wonder we get caught in cycles of fear and anxiety. For it is far too easy to become depressed or despair when we become engulfed by the torrent of bad news bombarding us 24/7
But I believe that this reaction is actually missing the whole point of the Gospel.
For in his proclamations, Jesus was not saying these things to make his disciples afraid. To panic them or cause them to give up hope.
On the contrary, his statements were reminders that in the midst of these happenings, God was near.
Don’t miss the divine at work, in this moment. In this place. In this person.
Don’t take this moment, this place, this person for granted.
My friends, here we stand on the cusp of the end of another year.
And the challenge that Christ offered to his disciples is extended to us.
What we will choose to do with this moment?
Will we choose to express our gratitude to the ones who have formed us into who we are? Our parents. Our friends. Our co-workers. Our spouses. Our kids. Our coaches. Our teachers. Our mentors.
Will we take the time to say I love you? I’ve got you. I’m here for you.
Will we visit the sibling who we keep promising to stop by? Will we send that card that has been sitting on our table for weeks. Will we send that text just because?
Or will we miss the moment. Letting it pass on by. Assuming there will be another time, another chance, another season.
I know what decision my student made all those years ago.
And I know what decision I will make today. How about you?
If not you, then who my friends? If not now, then when?
May God be Praised.