Reflections





Yesterday is Gone; Tomorrow is Yet to Be

Yesterday is gone; tomorrow is yet to be. All we have is today. To help make that saying real for you, here is a question: How would you act if today was your last day on earth, if you knew that at the end of the day you would have to account for your soul? I know that I would behave very differently. I would be much kinder, much more honest, and I would see Christ in every person.

The reality is that we don’t know whether today is our last one here on earth. We may be killed in an auto accident, or die of a heart attack. Death could attack us in a million ways. And so we say with Isaiah the prophet, “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we might be mindful of you in our ways!” (Isaiah 64:4)

How do you want the Lord to see you? As someone who is mean-hearted and doesn’t care about God? Or as someone who is loving and cooperates with God in all that you do?

Jesus warned us, “Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33) For me a more modern way of saying that is by following the precept of Alcoholics Anonymous: One day at a time. The founders of AA saw that many alcoholics couldn’t make long term commitments, to be sober for the rest of their lives, or even for some set time like a year or six months. So the wise founders of AA asked their members to be sober just for today. And by following that precept many members were able to get years of sobriety.

I would give you that same challenge. Just for today pray at least 15 minutes. Just for today welcome someone that is out of your comfort zone. Welcome someone of a different race or different ethnic background, someone who makes you a little uncomfortable.

Just for today do something nice for your family. Do the dishes. Find something to compliment them about. Build, don’t tear down.

Just for today work on something to make you a better person. Maybe if you are a student it may be studying that subject that you don’t do well in, or working on being more generous, or going on a diet and exercising.

Then tomorrow repeat. Keep repeating throughout your life, and in time you will find that you are living a good Christian life day by day. You may find that you do more praying and good deeds because you want to.  

A warning to perfectionists, who from generous hearts want to be perfect. God doesn’t want perfect people. He wants you warts and all. All you have to do is ‘let go let God,’ and do the footwork.

Let me give you an example. There was once a neo-Nazi who was harassing a Jewish rabbi on the telephone, leaving threatening phone calls on his answering service. The rabbi was able to track the Nazi down and confront him on his bad behavior. The Nazi swore at the rabbi. Just as the call was about to end, the rabbi asked, “Is there anything we can do for you?” He did this inspired by praying to God. This took the Nazi by surprise. He was expecting and really wanted a fight, but the rabbi showed him compassion. So the Nazi shared that he was a shut in and that he had a difficult time getting groceries. So the rabbi and his wife showed up the next Friday with a sack full of groceries, and did this for months. The Nazi changed his behavior so much that he became a public speaker, encouraging love rather than hatred.

The rabbi let go. He let go of his anger, his righteous understandable anger.

The rabbi let God. He prayed, and God led him to the answers that would work with the man who was harassing him.

The Rabbi did the footwork. He delivered food to the man’s apartment and befriended him.

Let go, let God, and do the footwork.

Remember what Jesus said. “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.” (Mark 13:35-36)

It is much better to be awake and following Jesus, then asleep and not paying attention when he comes for you. You can do this by living just for today, letting go, letting God, and doing the footwork.


Father Mike Van Cleve

Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.