Well, as of my college move-in today, I will officially become a sophomore, also known as a wise fool!
Although yesterday I started quoting Monsters Inc. in a restaurant and laughed too hard at myself for anyone to understand what I was saying, so let’s just say that I’ve been ready to possess an insulting title for a while now.1
Yesterday I headed over to campus to spend some time with Jesus before the craziness of move-in. My school isn’t exactly known for being the most aesthetically pleasing, and yet my heart leapt with joy as I walked the paths I crossed thousands of times last year, taking in every sight with excitement and gratitude. Well, almost every sight. It appears that they got rid of some of the rose bushes right outside of our chapel. I couldn’t help but have a vocal reaction right in front of some freshman parents – so that’s a win for representing our school.
It’s funny to think back to this time last year, when my Dory-like tendencies kept me hopelessly lost, as compared to yesterday’s shock over the minutiae of flower placement in a church garden. I know this campus so well. But I don’t know what this semester has in store.
As I wrote at the beginning of August, this is a month of transition and new beginnings for most everyone. Maybe you’re elated about the start of school or a new job. Maybe you’ve been dreading the return to classes all summer. But whatever your transition and whatever your corresponding emotions, life isn’t waiting. Happily, neither is the Holy Spirit.
As I knelt in the chapel yesterday with my hands folded beneath my chin, I could hear the tick of my watch, puncturing the silence and any denial of the temporal. I love the simple memento mori invitation of a watch, its physical reminder that every second and every breath draws a soul closer to the parousia of today’s Gospel. On one hand, the Gospel is frightening. Could there be a more chilling sentence than, “I do not know where you are from,” spoken by the mouth of our Creator? But on the other hand, the invitation to “Strive to enter through the narrow gate” is offered by the merciful God who yearns for our salvation more than we ourselves could ever desire it.
It is this invitation that gives meaning to every season and transition in life. In her witness, a fellow Totus Tuus missionary showed the teens the tail hanging from a ball of yarn. Our earthly life is that tiny string of yarn in comparison with the unending spiral of eternity. What are we to do with the precious gift of time our Lord offers us? Today’s Responsorial Psalm holds the answer: “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.”
Pick the transition or new season you’re worried about. Whether it’s a new semester, Nutcracker season, new job, new baby, your mission is to tell the Good News. If you are a baptized Christian, you have a solemn obligation to spread the Gospel, to invite others to bask in the truth that they are personally, unfathomably loved by a God who chose crucifixion rather than the thought of eternity without them, and who is alive and present in the Eucharist today. That is your job. Not to impress your new boss, not to keep up your GPA, not to get the band solo, but to set the world on fire for Jesus Christ.
Our fears are often rooted in a selfishness that hunts for the way we personally benefit from a given place or situation. What if we changed our disposition about new seasons from the question of, “What will I get from this,” to “How can I preach the Good News?”
Evangelization isn’t easy. Effective evangelization is even harder. But we must take this narrow gate. We must spread the Good News, begging Jesus to strengthen our drooping hands and our weak knees of which the Second Reading speaks. What if you saw every class as a vineyard for harvesting souls, or every spreadsheet as an offering to the Beloved? Every person you encounter is so hungry for the Truth that answers their most hidden questions, for the Beauty in which they can simultaneously lose and find themselves, for the Love that makes all things new. You won’t be able to speak Scripture to every person you encounter. But you can smile at him or her. In my own life, there has been no greater evangelization than the authentic joy of friends and mentors in love with the Lord.
I don’t know where you are in life. I don’t know what your past whispers or what tomorrow offers. But I know that today you exist because you are loved. Today, you have breath in your lungs because you must share about Love. Today, your heart beats so you may fall into Love once more.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
1 – Don’t tell me that if you were in a Cajun restaurant, you too would not turn to your mother and exclaim, “Mama, another gator got in the house!“