May 12, 2015

Latecomers and Beggars

People who know me well know that I am prone to misadventures when I travel.  I have missed flights, been re-routed on trains, and have been lost for long stretches of time on both highways and country roads!

I had an exceptionally spectacular mishap several years ago.  I was living in our local community in Washington D.C., at the time.  For reasons that are too complicated to explain here, I had to fly to Buffalo, NY, and drive to Toronto, Canada, to visit my family instead of flying directly to my destination.   The trip there was uneventful, but the journey home resembled Dante's description of purgatory.

Why was the way back so complicated?  Quite simply, I had left my house too late to catch my flight from Buffalo to Washington, D.C.  I was left with only option for my return trip - the bus.  Being late often leads to inconveniences and uncomfortable situations.  In my case, it meant exchanging a ninety-minute flight for a crammed twelve-hour ordeal.  It meant forfeiting the place that had been saved for me.

Forfeiting my place.  Losing out.  Missing the boat - or in my case, the plane.  Aren't we all afraid of this?  Aren't we all afraid that when the portions have been doled out, nothing will be left for us?  This fear plays itself out in many concrete circumstances.  It bespeaks the suspicion that grace is no infinite and that God is not enough.

However, is this fear justified?  How does God treat latecomers and beggars?  He waits for them.  He embraces them.  He celebrates them.  And who of us has not been late?  I don't mean for an event or an appointment, but in love.  As His creatures and His children, there is a very real sense in which all of us are latecomers.  God loves us first - always.  Human love has the character of a response - always. The cry of St. Augustine, "Late have I loved thee!" has a weight of an ontological statement.  It speaks the truth of our human condition.  And it is a glorious condition because we are awaited by a great love!

Do not be afraid!

 - Mother M. Maximilia, FSGM

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