FAUSTO GOMEZ OP
The Psalmist invites us: Today listen to his (God’s) voice, harden not your hearts! (Ps 95:7-8). Today, not yesterday, not tomorrow! Today, harden not your heart by not listening to God’s voice, that is, by not doing good or by doing evil – by being selfish or envious or unforgiving. These harden our hearts!
We listen to God’s voice today for today is “the day the Lord has made for us, a day to rejoice and be glad” (Ps 118:24). Today is God’s time for us (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 2659). It is not yesterday: “In last year’s nest there are no birds this year” (Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha). The prophet of Nazareth tells us: “Do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt 6:34).
What is the meaning of “today” in the perspective of faith? Today in the Bible means the day of God’s visitation (Lk 12:54). In the Old Testament, “today” is the time for a blessing, for obedience to God, for salvation. Contrarily, it may become – if we harden our hearts – a time for a curse, disobedience, perdition. In the New Testament, we are told, the word “today” is used forty times, half of them in Luke. In the hymn of Zechariah, the Benedictus, we pray to God “to serve him in holiness and justice in his presence, all the days of our life” (Lk 1:75). Jesus is born “today” (Lk 2:11). “Today” this Sacred Scripture is fulfilled,” Jesus says in the Synagogue (Lk 4:21). Jesus tells us that “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mk 1:14-15), that is, the Kingdom of heaven is “now,” today. “Today” Jesus encounters the sinner Zacchaeus: “Zacchaeus, come down (the sycamore tree); hurry, because I am to stay at your house today” (Lk 19:5). One of the disciples of Jesus wished to follow him later not today: he wanted to take care of his father first. Jesus tells him: “Follow me,” that is not tomorrow but today, not later but now! (Mt 8:21-22). From the Cross, Jesus tells the good thief crucified near him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).
Daily we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Mt 6:11). This petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father “reminds us that all we have comes from God” (St. Thomas Aquinas). We ask God the Father, Our Father every day to give us the bread of grace, the Bread of the Eucharist (Jn 6:51), the bread of God’s Word (Mt 4:4), and the bread or food this day. “Give us”: not only to you and to me, but also to our brothers and sisters, particularly those who have no bread and with whom we have to share our bread. “This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment” (CCC, 2831; cf. Lk 16:19-31; Mt 25:31-46).
Today implies “obedience and abandonment to the plan of God” (Massimo Grilli, 2013). For the Christian, the believer “today” is not just the chronological day, chronos, marked by the calendar but a theological or spiritual day, a Kairos – God’s grace and love. This day, today we listen to God’s voice in our hearts, in our brothers, in his creation. Today we listen to God’s Word, Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our brother and savior. Today, however, is not separated from but linked to yesterday and tomorrow.
To concentrate on today does not mean to forget yesterday: this day is grounded on our days past. Nor does it mean to forget tomorrow: we are pilgrims on the way to God, and “today is always not yet” (Antonio Machado). “Trust the past in God’s mercy, the present to his love, and the future to his Providence”; as our memory is the present of the past, our hope is the present of the future (St. Augustine). The Eucharist illustrates perfectly the necessary links among yesterday, today and tomorrow: it is memorial of the passion of Christ (yesterday); pledge of future glory (tomorrow), and grace every day (today). Our Christian life is a dynamic tension between the past and the future lived in the present: a journey from the already of the death and resurrection of Christ to the not yet of eternal happiness by living this day faithfully and creatively as God’s creatures and children.
The poet mystic Kahlil Gibran writes in The Prophet:
Yet the timeless of you is aware of life’s timelessness, and knows;
And knows that yesterday is but to-day’s memory and to-morrow is to-day’s dream.
And let to-day embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing”
Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata was asked, “What are your plans for the future?” She answered: “I do not have plans for the future; I only care about today, for today is the day I have to love Jesus.” St. Francis of Sales advises us: “Live one day at a time, leaving the rest in God’s care”; “Go along with confidence in divine Providence, worrying only about the present day and leaving your heart in the Lord’s care.” In his Spiritual Diary, Saint John XXIII begins many daily entries with these words: “Only for today…” For the good Pope, “every day is a good day to be born and every day is a good day to die.”
As Christians we love today, which is God’s gift. With the example of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are not afraid today, we do our duty today, we put love in everything we do today, we are compassionate today, we are grateful today, we smile today. When we fail, when we do not hear God’s voice and harden our heart – we are sinners -, then it is the day of repentance and of God’s forgiveness.
Carpe diem the Romans used to say, that is seize the day, live this day the best you can. For Christians and other believers and non-believers, carpe diem implies fidelity to this day, hopeful and loving fidelity.
Rooted in faith and hoping for heaven, believers march forward with steps of love. Joyful in hope (Rom 12:12), we march “striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:11), “racing towards the finishing-point” (Phil 3:14), we journey today, every day with steps of love towards the embrace of Jesus the Lord.
Is today very significant in our life? Indeed, it is! A fruitful day – today -, rooted in yesterday, journeys towards tomorrow by the path of passionate and joyful love of God, of neighbor, of needy neighbor, of creation.
Brother, sister, have a good day.Today!