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The night before Hurricane Sandy, I had the 8:00 pm Mass. Later, I went to the hospital to visit three patients. When I was done, I was famished. I planned to go to the supermarket on the way home and buy a few tomatoes to make a sauce for spaghetti: delicious carbs. I picked out the tomatoes and got in a long line to pay. I was standing in a sea of shopping carts. Everyone filled to the brim anticipating the storm. As I was waiting, I thought to myself that maybe I should buy something else, to make storm preparations like everyone around me. I felt ridiculous standing there with two tomatoes. I thought, “No, we are ready for the storm; we have everything we need.”
In the Gospel, Jesus talks about the veiled moon and the sun covered with the stars no longer visible – a storm. The storm he warns of is different. There is no twenty-four-hour news service, no city mayor warning everyone to flee the coast, or no evacuation plan. Only the Father knows when this storm is going to hit. The question is how do you prepare for a storm when no one knows when it is going to arrive? You prepare now; you do not put it off.
I met my fly fishing friend one day at a lake. When I saw him, I noticed he had a plastic straw dangling from his mouth. I said, “Hi, What’s with the straw?” He said, “I quit smoking.” I said, “That’s wonderful. When?” He told me his doctor told him he had to quit. I said, “I told you that years ago. You had to wait until your doctor told you to quit?” He said, “I have cancer.” My thought is this: If you have something important to do, make sure you do it now. Do not wait until later. That is how you prepare for the hidden storms in life. Do not put off the important things or the things that matter.
When I was working for my father, a hunting buddy of his died and dad wanted to pay his last respects. As the funeral home was not far from where we were working, we brought some dress clothes with us so we could change. On our way down, my father told me that his friend was a great businessman and landed a fantastic job overseas as a consultant for an electric company, but he was not very good at life: He was not generous with his friends; he left his wife, and eventually lost contact with his kids. He did manage to put a pile of money in the bank. When he came back, he planned to retire and make up for lost time: spoil the wife and kids, and babysit the grandkids. When we got to the truck, dad put his two hands on the wheel, yet he didn’t start up the ignition. He gazed out the window in thought. He said, “Peter, you live now. Don’t put off life. Be generous now, while you have the chance. Be kind to people now. Be faithful to your mission in life now. Don’t put off life.”
If you have something important to do, make sure you do it now. Do not put it off. If you do, you will be like me standing in the grocery store, just before the storm, holding two tomatoes and saying, “I am ready.”Back to All Homilies