This afternoon, he came again to my residence. He was broken and depressed. “Is there hope? What do you think, Father? Is there hope?” He kept repeating again and again this question. He wants his marriage, which has just broken down, to work. He is living in one place, she is living in another. The children, as usual – sadly – are living all around. He wanted to know whether there was a future for his marriage. Whether there was a tomorrow…
It was early evening and the company of marines had stopped the march to have supper. Their clothes were stiff with dirt and cold. One of the marines was leaning against a truck eating his cold meal from a tin can. Everything about him spoke of hopelessness and exhaustion. The TV correspondent, who was embedded in the company, asked a searching question to the marine. “If I were God and could grant you anything you wanted, what would you want most?” The marine stood pensive for a few moments. Then he looked up at the reporter and said, “Just give me tomorrow, please.”
Life is made of a yesterday, a today and a tomorrow. The way I lived yesterday determines my today. The way I live today determines my tomorrow. And since we do not live in a vacuum but we are linked to other people, the way we live today will affect others. Just now I got an email from a seventeen year old girl, not married, who found out that she is pregnant. What she did yesterday is effecting her today (she is feeling frantic) and will condition all her tomorrows. Not only hers but, alas, also of this baby.
It is true that we cannot alter yesterday. And we cannot completely determine tomorrow. Yesterday and tomorrow are not ours. What we did yesterday in undoable and many times, things happen tomorrow that have not been planned by us. But it is also true that today without a future would be absurd.
Today has a future dimension that gives color to it. The tomorrow, the vision, the expectation, the hope makes today livable! Saint Augustine once wrote that, hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
For a Christian, this tomorrow acquires an immense dimension because eternity is at stake. There is a legend from the first century about the disciple Thomas who tradition says spent his entire life after the resurrection of Jesus Christ preaching the Gospel in India.
The story goes that Thomas was employed by a king to build a new palace. He was given the money to buy the materials and hire the skilled workers. However Thomas gave all the money to the poor and continued his mission of preaching the Gospel. Obviously the day came when the King insisted that he sees this palace.
Evidently, there was no palace to be seen. Or was there not?! Thomas in effect answered, “I am sorry, Sir. You can not see it now, but when you depart this life you shall see it. I have built you a palace in heaven by giving your money to the poor and needy of your kingdom.”
The King did not like the answer and had Thomas thrown in prison. He thought of putting him to death. However that night the king’s brother died and he saw in heaven the palace that had been built by Thomas’ charitable work. God gave permission to the brother to come back and tell the king of the magnificent palace awaiting him in heaven. Thomas is freed from prison and the king and his brother become Christians.
Build tomorrow today. What destroys us many times is the false conviction that things will never varies. We look around us and perceive that nothing changes. Gravity will always make heavy objects fall towards the earth. In chemistry, one mixes certain elements in precise proportion and it will always yield the same results. Astronomy reveals to us that the sun, the moon, the stars will always work in this specific order. Medicine teaches that the heart, the lungs, the built-in defense mechanism against diseases will act in a certain specific way always.
We then translate this in human relationships. People will never change. Trust once broken can never be repaired. Certain marriages are doomed to failure definitely. Once a drug abuser always a drug abuser….
Well, I do not believe this. I have seen people changing. I have seen marriages rebuilt. I have seen characters altered. I have seen delinquents becoming saints. I have seen drug addicts and alcohol dependant people become clean and sober.
This is why, the only thing I told this man who was at my door this afternoon, was “If you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on! Because God is a God of miracles, and He’s holding the other end!”
When God comes down, He removes the unbending difficulties. When God comes down, the not-possible becomes possible. When God comes down, wonders happen. God moves on behalf of the one who waits.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.