2006-11-19 Habitual procrastination, which means “for tomorrow,”

November 19, 2006

Habitual procrastination, which means “for tomorrow,” is a moral sickness, for it is a weakness of the free will. Sometimes, of course, temporizing is wise: it never hurts to put off to tomorrow that angry letter, and there will be fewer regrets about sending it toned down. Doing God’s will should never be delayed. What is done a day late is never the same thing, for the day and the universe will have moved on.

The apostles thought Jesus was procrastinating on the Jericho road when he delayed going to heal Lazarus in Bethany, but he knew that Lazarus must die and be raised, so that the Passion could begin. But when he cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” the man came out of the tomb immediately, just as the daughter of Jairus came to life immediately. The mother-in-law of Peter got up immediately when the fever left her, and so too were the paralytic, the ten lepers, and the woman with a hemorrhage healed immediately.

Jesus never procrastinates and he demands in turn a prompt response to his bidding. When summoned, the apostles left their fishing nets immediately. The spiritual doctors say that “heroic virtue,” which is the hallmark of saints, consists in helping God effortlessly, joyfully, and immediately. If I intend to be faithful starting tomorrow, I am not faithful today.

Now, why did blind Bartimaeus “leap up” immediately? The answer obviously is that he had been given sight. But that only happened because he approached Jesus, and he did that because some of the people told him, “Take heart, Jesus is calling you.” Your guardian angel and all the saints are telling you the same thing each day. It is one of the sublime sentences of Scripture, applicable to everyone, everywhere, at every moment. The voices of those angels and saints are most intense at Mass. In the waning days of the liturgical year, approaching Advent, do listen to those voices. Do not say, “Give me some time and come back tomorrow.” A Spanish proverb says that tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. But it is never today.

Last Sunday I preached on what our Lord said about money. St. Paul talked a lot about money, but our Lord spoke about it more. He wants back all he gave you: mind and heart, intellect and will. Immediately. Money is part of that equation because the mind knows that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our parish is blessed in many ways, but many have yet to learn the sacred art of spiritual tithing. As the festal days of Christmas and Epiphany approach, do examine your conscience as to way to support the work of the Church in this crucial time. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, serenely risks his life daily. Support him immediately. Not tomorrow.

Fr. George W. Rutler

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