Friday, December 11, 2020

There Will Be Time

I honestly think there is about a 10 degree window of temperatures in which I am actually comfortable. Maybe about 20 degrees. Otherwise, it is too hot or too cold. Factor in the oddity that is South Bend humidity, and that window can get smaller. Considering our great God placed our home planet at just the right distance away from the sun to actually sustain life - imagine if we were just a bit closer or further away! - it's too bad that my comfort window is even smaller. 

The same goes for things like the amount of time that mass takes. COVID-impacts aside, if mass is too short, it seems like we missed out on something. Go beyond the 60-minute mark and the pew somehow becomes the most uncomfortable seat ever created. 

In today's Gospel, Jesus vents about people like me. He remarks how the people of His time found John the Baptist too ascetic, and Himself too indulgent: 

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ (Matthew 11:19)

Both are right because there will be time for each. 

The juxtaposition of preparing the way of the Lord and joining Him at the banquet is not meant to pit the two at odds with one another. Jesus isn't trying to say that John's approach was inappropriate. Instead, He is highlighting the stubbornness of humanity. He is calling attention to the fact that most of our hearts are just too hard to change, that many of us - myself included - are too opposed to discomfort or too unwilling to actually enjoy something.  

There is a time for both repentance and rejoicing. We must be willing to pivot and embrace both as Jesus needs and wants us to. In this way, our hearts must be soft, meek, malleable, flexible and open. 

There will times in our lives where repentance will be the order of the day, or week, or month, season, year, or decade. COVID might be such a time. Or, maybe it was/is a period of loneliness, pain, frustration, sadness and/or loss. When we have reason to sing a dirge, go ahead and mourn (Matthew 11:17). 

There will also be times in our lives when rejoicing is called for. Good, authentic, honest rejoicing. Weddings, graduations, births, birthdays, family reunions, holidays. Rejoice. I say again, rejoice! The flute is playing for us: let us dance (Matthew 11:17)!

And, there will be times, thankfully, where we won't be singing songs of lamentation or joy, where we won't be sulking or dancing. We will just be. This is okay, too! Life at either extreme isn't sustainable. There is a season and there will be time for everything. 

In the words of C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, 1942), “Humans are amphibians...half spirit and half spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time." May we accept this dual role and may we respond to life in the ways appropriate to the season in which we find ourselves. 

So, for now, let us jump fully into the season of Advent, where we wait in joyful, expectant, and repentant hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.