Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
MT 16:21-27
September 3, 2017

Early last winter, I was contacted by a priest friend asking if I could preside at the Sunday Masses at his parish, both Memorial Day as well as Labor Day weekends. As I entered both dates in my calendar, I recall thinking to myself: That guy really plans ahead! But before I knew it, I was calling his community to prayer.

Before the final blessing, I told the folks that I hoped they would have a great summer and that I would be back to pray with them Labor Day weekend. And then I got a laugh when I asked the extremely talented Music Minister if she happened to know the song by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons that was popular in my youth: “See you in September.” She did! And much to all of our delight, she sang the refrain. (If you are under 50, check it out on YouTube.)

Maybe it was the song, or the warm sunny day, or the picnic I was heading to…or a combination of all three, but as I was walking to my car after Mass that Memorial Day weekend, I was especially aware of the fact that I had THE WHOLE SUMMER AHEAD OF ME!

Well, here we are on Labor Day weekend, and I have joined the chorus of voices asking: What happened to summer?

This was the year I was going to spend two UNINTERRUPTED weeks at my family’s cottage. (I haven’t spent one single night there.) This was the summer I was going to plant an herb garden in my yard. (I didn’t even bother to buy geraniums in pots.) This was the summer I was going to get all kinds of projects done around the house. (I still haven’t cleaned last fall’s leaves out of the garage.) So what did I do with my time? I can’t really say, but a new season is about to begin and our Readings all seem to speak to how we can use time wisely.

Jesus Himself had a very short “season” in this world and a whole lot to accomplish. As far as Peter and the rest of the Apostles and disciples were concerned, it was an “endless summer.” It was exciting following Jesus as He taught and preached, healed and fed, forgave and rehabilitated. They felt like the Season of Jesus would never end. But the Lord had one primary mission to accomplish, and He understood that it could not be delayed or postponed. Those other things that made the Apostles and disciples proud to be part of the Lord’s work were profoundly important. Nevertheless, miracle-making was not what The Father sent the Son to do. And there was nothing that Peter, or anyone else, could say or do to keep Jesus from fulfilling His mission. He was entirely focused on God’s plan for Him…offering His Body as a living sacrifice…the perfect and unrepeatable Sacrifice…Holy and pleasing in God’s sight.

So we end this summer with the all-important question: How will the season of my earthly life end? Will I leave behind a long list of: “I was going to!” “I always intended to!” “Gosh, I wish I had!” And we begin this new season with a fresh opportunity to transform ourselves. We enter into the autumn of 2017 equipped with the wisdom of these Readings, urging us to discern what God is asking of us and then striving to fulfill that mission.

There is always going to be that little voice within us…or that friend, trying to persuade us to use our time in a different way. But the wise person will turn a deaf ear on every effort to distract and continue to focus on what God is asking. It really is important to plan ahead…way, way ahead…looking not just to the end of a season…but to the end of our lives.

So…sing along with me: See you in eternity…or lose you…to a summer love!