Lord, Let Me First Go and Say Farewell | iPray with the Gospel
Jesus said to a man “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Many people want to follow Jesus but they have second thoughts when meeting difficulties. They “plan” to follow Him but not now… maybe later… tomorrow perhaps. They have other priorities now. Eventually it happens to them as to that old British man who was working in a garage in Spain. When they asked him why he was living there he would say: “I came for a gap year when I was 18.” Some people start a “gap year” before committing themselves to follow Jesus and spend their lives in a spiritual “gap-year”.
St Augustine was leading a life of sin and striving for a career as an orator. Listening to St Ambrose, a great speaker, he realised that God could change him but… he wasn’t interested yet. He knew what to do but was too lazy to change. Looking for the truth, he kept repeating to himself: “Tomorrow I shall find it; it will appear manifestly and I shall grasp it.” When he asked God for help he was praying: “Give me chastity and continence, only not yet” because he feared to be heard and healed too early. What a battle inside his heart! He would say to his heart: ‘Come on! Now, now!’ But when he was close he’d stop at the edge – until one day when he couldn’t put it of anymore: “I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears… I sent up these sorrowful words: How long, how long, “tomorrow, and tomorrow?” Why not now?” And that was the day he changed. He was 33 years old. He would regret his wasted time: “Too late I loved Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved Thee!”
Next time the enemy whispers in your ear “later… tomorrow”, you can use the aspiration that St Josemaría (whose feast is usually today) prayed many times: “Nunc Coepi!” (Latin for “Now I begin!”) My Mother, if ever the enemy tempts me into procrastinating in my response to God, help me to pray with determination: Nunc Coepi!
Rev. George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei, working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. He is the Chaplain of The Cedars Independent School in Croydon, and also works as Chaplain of Kelston Club & Study Centre (Balham) and Oakwood Independent School (Purley). He has developed his pastoral ministry mainly with young people and is the author of iPray with the Gospel: Resources to Help Young People Pray (www.ipraywiththegospel.org).