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“My paper is done. Do you want it?”  I asked my professor.  He said, “The paper does not have to be handed in until the end of the semester, but I can take it now.”  Take a guess what I am going to do the night before the paper is actually due?  I am going to bed and sleep the whole night because I don’t have to stay up all night cramming to get it done.

The wise virgins, in the gospel, sleep because their work is completed. Their “papers” are done so-to-speak. They have their oil. The foolish virgins also go to sleep.  When they wake up, however, their “papers” are not done on the day they were due – very foolish.

The moral is to get the job done – on time.  The most important things in life…the reason we were placed here on earth… must be accomplished.  We all know what they are.

After we finished the roof job on the shrine, and the workers had gone, we had just one more chore on the punch list: clean the house.  The whole house was filled with dirt and dust from work over the summer. Windows were covered with roof dust, and debris was all over the lawn. It is the job no one likes to do.  I was in the back of the shrine and a nice woman asked me, “Do you have a vacuum cleaner?”  I said, “Yes.”  She vacuumed the front parlor.  When she was done, she asked me if there was anything else that needed cleaning.  I said to her, “Is there anything else that needs cleaning?” I showed her everything.  I know she will never ask me that question again.  She never picked up a hammer or roof nail, but she was just as important to me as any of the other workers on the roof that worked the entire summer.

When I entered the seminary, my first class was medieval English literature. The first book I had to read was Spencer’s The Faerie Queen published in 1590. Needless to say, I struggled. Before the exam, my classmates took a nap. I needed to look up vocabulary and wrangle with the interpretation of the work.  My classmates each got an “A” and I barely passed. At the end of the year, one classmate left the seminary. I turned to God and said, “Don’t let him get away. He is gifted; he is smart, and he is much holier than I. Don’t let the most talented ones get away; otherwise, you will be stuck with me.” The goal of every seminarian is to be an ex-seminarian, so ordination felt pretty good. Nine years later I was ordained, and I realized it is not about how well you do when you first enter. It is about how you finish.

I want to ask St. Peter a question: “Why did Jesus have to ask you three times if you loved Him?” Apparently, Jesus wasn’t all that impressed the first time Peter answered Him, and He asked him again and again. What answer was Jesus looking for? I would like to know in case He ever asks me, “Peter, son of Alfred, do you love Me?” Well, there is some good news. Apparently, others in the early church asked Peter about the matter. He wrote a letter to Christians, and in it, said: “May your love be fervent.” I wasn’t really sure what Peter meant when he wrote “fervent.” I looked it up in the Greek to find out what Peter meant. Fervent means to strain forward; to lean into the tape at the end of a race. In other words, it is not what you do at the beginning of the race; it is about what you do at the end. Everyone is excited at the beginning, everyone wants to win, everyone has lots of energy, yet it only matters what happens at the end…are you leaning into the tape.

-The last words Jesus spoke before He died were “It is finished.” He finished what He came to do. He saved us, forgave sin, and made it possible for us to enjoy eternal life. He also asked us to do the same. “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” The word for perfect is the same as the word for finish: Jesus wants us to finish the job. What job you may ask. We are baptized Christians. We need to live our lives as Christians in the world.

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