Try to remember

Tom Bartolomeo
33rd Sunday Ordinary C 2013
Malachi 3:19-20a; Psalm 98:
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
Reproduced with Permission

Perhaps, you have noticed a certain sense of finality in these last few weeks in the Church's calendar which will come to a close next Sunday, the Solemnity of Christ the King who hangs and dies on a cross with a placard nailed to the top rail of his cross, "King of the Jews." This thirty-third and next to last Sunday in Ordinary Time describes the end of the world which begun with Christ's triumphal death on a Cross. And don't worry. We will all be there for the last four things, death, judgement, heaven and hell. Let's hope it turns out well for each of us although the calendar of the world especially ours is completely unaware of the finality Jesus described in the gospel reading we heard today. All the stores in all the malls have already made their plans not only for this buying and selling season but for the next big Christmas sellathon in 2014. I can't say whether they or we will be there or not. It all depends on Jesus' prophesy:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and mighty signs will come from the sky. Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (Luke 21: 10-15)

"Remember," Jesus said. I pray that we are all on the right side of the Lord on that day. Why would I repeat this horror? Perhaps, we can tell our relatives and friends who couldn't make it to this memorial of our Savior's life, death and redemption borne in his body not ours. Ours will come later. Remember. Remembering, or course, is the essence of a calendar, anyone's calendar - birthdays, anniversaries and great events. So often our calendar events are forgotten except those days which are paid holidays. Memorial Day? I know it marks the beginning of summer "when the living is easy" and the start of vacation time, but what exactly are we memorializing? Some day I will find out. It is too bad, too, that Thanksgiving day and Christmas day are regularly obscured by other interests, good times, good meals and the exchange of gifts. Remember, if we will, the thanksgiving meal, the last meal Jesus had with his Apostles on the evening before his arrest and his death the next day. The Mass, the Eucharist in Greek means "thanksgiving" -- we remember every Sunday and give thanks that Jesus died for our sins. It was the only time Jesus said we should repeat our thanksgiving for God's forgiveness for our sins, "Do this in memory of me" which we will soon repeat in this Mass:

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the saving Passion of your Son, His wondrous Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and as we look forward to his second coming, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.

Remember. I know we often forget many things. I am particularly absent minded, but if it is conversation with God, that takes precedence over nearly everything especially when he is talking and we are listening. Funny thing about prayer - it is rather ineffective by instagram, email or letter unless we remain in his presence when he receives our prayer and he has our attention when he chooses to speak to us. God is funny that way, not inclined to reply to a petition if the petitioner is absent. Unfortunately, we can readily count on the forces of this world to take advantage of our holy days, make us forget, make them into holidays, more opportunities for 'having a good time' and, of course, buying and selling. We have been well trained as consumers. We watch fifty or so commercials every hour on television and fill up storage lockers with stuff we soon forget we have. Busy bees. Drones working for the queen bee of coveting and forgetful of the ninth and tenth commandments, "Thou shall not covet."

Busyness induces forgetfulness. We can literally lose our minds not only our good intentions pursuing every "gimme" enticement. The evil one counts on this. He is too clever to get us to sin outright. He plans our downfall by filling our minds with vanities and trivialities convincing us that they are important or he convinces us to spend all our good will and effort with more than we can carry leaving us nothing in reserve to remember the last things, death, judgement, heaven and hell.

I was recently "reminded" of the importance of "remembering" hearing the song, "Try to remember", from the longest running Broadway show and musical anywhere, The Fantasticks, which opened in 1960 . I had actually seen the play three times over the course of thirty years and may see it one more time. The musical drama captured countless audiences since with its opening song, "Try to remember." The drama involves the typical conflict, boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy regains girl. What sets it apart from other contemporary plays about love is the truth it depicts that we can not regain what we have lost unless we remember the hurt. Yes, unless we remember the hurt. The play takes place between September and December, a lifetime for two young people in love. The drama revolves around the question, Can the two lovers surmount the "hurt" in their love which is summed up in the last stanza of the song?

Deep in December it's nice to remember
without the hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow.

On a much higher higher plane we follow Jesus Christ, the author of life and love who bears with us our hurts and crosses. Hurt in this world is undeniable and would be unbearable without love. Who can not love a God who enters our world of pain to lead us to his world of love? Only he could and would destroy the enemy of life, hurt and death. "Our hearts should remember and follow" and follow. In all the noise of the world surrounding the approaching advent season can we clear out all the busyness and trivialities of this world approaching the drama of our salvation? Try . . . try to remember.