We can all imagine the child in the back seat of the car on a long car ride asking his mom or dad, “are we there yet?” A classic story of impatience, but also perhaps of not knowing where we’re going or how long it’s going to take to get there. I think we’ve all been there. It can be hard to be patient when we just want to get where we are going. It can be difficult to be a patient Christian. When we begin to live the Christian life, it’s exciting to heroically struggle to be the best we can be, and as we begin to see how our lives become better for the struggle, it’s rewarding, fulfilling, enriching and amazing to encounter the Lord at such a deep level. But then we are called to do that day in and day out, year after year and eventually without what we see as the daily benefits. People in the world around us seem to be having more fun, more immediate gratification, more enjoyment in life than we are making our sacrifices.
We catch a glimpse of that frustration in St. Peter’s exclamation in today’s Gospel. It pairs nicely with the First Reading today which calls on us to be patient and strive for holiness. These readings go well together because the more mature expression from St. Peter comes in the First Reading, the Gospel reveals his impatience in the moment, the relatable and identifiable struggle we can all feel from time to time, “what am I doing all this for anyway?”
As Christians, we’re all in the same position. Holiness and striving to be with God in heaven and to bring as many people with us as we can, sometimes in the “right now” of our lives this can seem like a fool’s game. We can be inspired, but then the shine wears off eventually and we’re left questioning. It’s an age-old and classic struggle. But this is what faith, trust and fidelity are all about.
As Director of Vocations, working with people at the beginning of their vocational discernment, I am inspired by the enthusiasm and energy and faith that most have. It’s great for me because I spend a lot of time reflecting upon my own vocation to priesthood and how I am living that out. I feel blessed right now that I still feel a tremendous joy in my priestly ministry. I love being a priest, I love witnessing and doing what priests do. I love meeting people who inspire my faith and the excitement of every day. I have friends who have shared with me a loss of that joy, a personal or internal struggle that makes them question whether God really called them to this life at all. I pray for them because there’s nothing else I could say or do to help them when they feel things “drudging on”. I am inspired though by the joyful and faithful senior clergy of our archdiocese and there are many of them who continue to minister and remain faithful to their life’s mission. I also know for many of them, life hasn’t been easy but there commitment is what I consider a rock-solid example for myself. Some might look to these men (I can think of many women religious and married people as well, faithful and steadfast in their mission) and ask “why wouldn’t you do something else?” Some may look at what have done (or not done in the eye of the beholder) and ask “was it all worth it?” And for some, they may not be able to provide a wonderfully convincing answer that would inspire. The inspiration for me is in the following through on their commitment to the Lord, nothing more or less than that. In simple faith they did what was asked of them and await the words of the Lord at the end of their life “well done, good and faithful servant”.
That is the greatest thing any priest (or Christian) with faith in God can desire to hear at the end of his life.