Day 14: What’s This All About?

There’s a problem with a steam pipe on East 9th, so the heat isn’t working inside the cathedral. The priest says that we should offer up our discomfort as a sacrifice for our sins and for the souls in purgatory. I realize that I could be saving a lot of souls if I offered up every wintry day inside my poorly insulated 100-year-old house. Maybe I should do that instead of complaining?

It’s officially been two weeks since I vowed to attend Mass every day during 2019, and it’s time to ask myself the big question: Why am I doing this? I hadn’t really thought about that on January 1. It had come to me as a good idea and, truth be told, something that would force me to blog every day. Was I planning to get something out of the process? It seems logical that I would, but what might that be?

As I’m pondering this, I’m listening to the gospel story of Jesus calling James and John. The two left their father, Zebedee, and followed Jesus. They just got out of the boat and left Zebedee there with the hired hand. Can you imagine? I mean, what’s Zebedee thinking? Where are those two slugs going? There’s no indication he knew who his sons were about to follow.

Doesn’t this seem a bit frightening? You see a stranger who tells you to follow him, and you drop whatever you’re doing and go. Apparently, no one made it into the Bible by saying, “Let me finish folding the laundry and then I’ll follow you.” No one said, “I have to take my kid to practice, so I’ll just meet you there.” You have to be ready to go, on the spot. And you’re not even totally sure where you’re going. You have no control over the situation. You just know it’s the right thing to do, at that moment.

Who’s ready to make that kind of commitment? Anyone? Anyone?

My guess is there were others Jesus called, but in the Bible we find out who actually responded without hesitation. Maybe there was a fisherman in a boat close to Zebedee’s and he was also called, but he wanted to wait until he was done fishing for the day. Sorry, pal, this is a one-time offer. Did he realize later that he had the chance to follow Jesus? Was he bummed? Or was he too oblivious to know he was missing out on the biggest chance of his life? (Also, were any women called, and did they follow?)

I’m not expecting Jesus to call me while I’m writing this blog, but if he did would I drop everything and go? Or would I tell him I’ll meet him later on, once I write my blog post, empty the dishwasher and play a word game on my phone? Maybe the Mass challenge is supposed to help me get my priorities straight so I can be ready for what’s really important?

On a side note, I lit a candle today in front of St. Anthony. He did me a solid last night, and this was my way of thanking him.


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