Bishop David Zubik

Bridging the Gap

Some of you, my readers, are like myself—part of the senior generations.  And I suspect that those of you who, like me, had parents or grandparents in the “greatest generation” can confess taking an inventory of successes that are a part of the mosaic of your life.  Of course, this eventually brings to mind the mistakes made over the years.

The latter has been my preoccupation of late—looking at mistaken decisions; having different priorities; regretting missed opportunities; remembering relationships that have gone into the memory box. You get the picture.

Recently, in one of our daily Advent Masses, we heard Saint Mathew’s Gospel about the two sons whose father asked them to go and to do some work in his vineyard.  The first said “no,” but had second thoughts and a change of heart.  The second said “yes” but dropped the ball.

In my reflection on that Gospel and its application today, I came upon a commentary that related this teaching of Jesus to a human response that is surely not unfamiliar to most of us.

The “Yes…BUT” syndrome.

You know those moments.

Those times when we really do intend to call a friend with whom we haven’t spoken for a while…but don’t.

Those times when we should visit a shut-in neighbor…but don’t.

Those times when we know we should apologize to someone whom we’ve hurt…but don’t.

Those times when we promise to pray for someone…but don’t.

To be perfectly honest, sometimes my best intentions fall by the wayside, with understandable excuses. These excuses that can slide into a regular practice.

The Advent and Christmas seasons remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season”—words that are more than a clever slogan.  Advent and Christmas tickle our hearts, prompting us to put into action the life and love of Jesus through our own words and deeds.

To use a fifty-dollar word, Christmas is all about the Incarnation. It is about God taking on our flesh, our humanity in all things but sin, so that we in our humanity can become much more like God.

Perhaps the number one item on your Christmas wish list and mine should be to do good and be better at our personal intentions. 

You will remember the oft quoted phrase: “The way to hell is paved with good intentions.”  The way to heaven is paved with intentions fulfilled.

Christmas is all about the Incarnation—the coming of Jesus to earth in the little town of Bethlehem.

But the Incarnation also means Jesus coming to earth today—through you and me—in what we do and how we do it; in what we say and how we say it.

Christmas is especially a time of precious memories, not only for us seniors but for all intentional “do-gooders,” followers of Jesus, in 2021.

So, is there any intention in your life that is currently shelved as a “Yes…BUT”?  Advent and Christmas provide the perfect time to take it off the shelf and make good on it.

Going back to the commentary I referenced earlier in this reflection, let’s make every effort to turn our “Yes…BUT” to a solid “YES!”