We have a strong tendency to be distracted and impatient. When we are tired, we wish we were back in bed sleeping. When we are stuck in traffic, we wish we had already arrived at our destination. But we don’t have time to wish away time. We are each called to holiness every moment of our lives. Personally, responding to this call can take a lot of effort. It requires being mentally present and attentive to others, which demands patience and perseverance. But if I am distracted by wishing I were elsewhere, I don’t have the energy or focus to live my vocation. If I am called to be awake and responsive to the people and tasks God has placed before me, but instead I think of the comfort of my own bed or the good some coffee would do me, I’m sabotaging myself and the people I could be helping.
In Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” In the New American Bible (revised edition) the footnote states, “Jesus demands of his disciples a truthfulness that makes oaths unnecessary.” I want to live this truthfulness in word and deed. I want such a truthfulness and integrity in my presence and actions that assurances are unnecessary. If I am physically present, I should hope my whole being is engaged as well, and my thoughts are not elsewhere. I do not want to appear attentive if I am not and then manifest a lie. I would like to be what I am and live my vocation to holiness through it. Whatever work or recreation I am given, I should work to do it well. Jesus would raise the bar, though, saying, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48), which Father Jacques Philippe explains as being “not the one who behaves in an irreproachable manner, but the one who loves most.” I should be truthful in my actions by doing everything to the best of my ability with love.
If I am awake, let me be awake and attentive. If I am working on homework, let me notice the details of my work rather than the rumblings of my stomach or the notifications on my phone. If I am stuck in traffic, let me be stuck in traffic and be patient, using the valuable time given in delay to relax, reflect and pray. We make our own plans and have our own desires, but they often constrict our freedom to respond to God’s will in peace. If we are preoccupied with ourselves, we are not available for God to occupy us with his will. It is true that sometimes his will is revealed through our desires and the things that distract us, so we must discern the difference between our self-centered thoughts and God’s gentle nudges. But I think we can agree that a certain distracted and disinterested attitude pervades our lives, and it’s not healthy or holy.
Let’s engage in what we are given. If we are doing the laundry or meeting with a colleague or washing the dishes or driving down the street, let us immerse our lives in dedication, patience and love. Let’s not squander these gifts and graces placed before us. Whatever we are invited to, whatever circumstances God allows to work in our lives, let’s not waste our time wishing we were something or somewhere we are not. Let’s be present and patient, and live truthfully in word and deed.