Pope Francis reflected on Thursday how each person, not knowing what will happen in the future, has only “today” to love God and open their heart to the Holy Spirit – while the temptation to put things off is foolish, because there may not be another day.
“I do not say this in order to scare you, but simply to say that our life is the present moment: today or never,” he said Jan. 12. “I think upon this. Tomorrow will be the eternal tomorrow, without sunset, with the Lord, forever. If I am faithful to this moment.”
In his homily at Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s first reading, which comes from the Letter to the Hebrews and says, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice, ‘harden not your hearts…’”
And a few lines later: “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.”
As this passage points out, the Pope said, it is “a present moment in which we have received the love of God, God’s promise to find him.” Therefore, he said, even though it is tempting to say, “I will do it tomorrow,” it is possible that tomorrow simply “will not be.”
Francis illustrated his point using two of Jesus’ parables: The 10 foolish virgins who did not have oil for their lamps, so when they returned, found the door closed to them, and the man who knocked at the door, but to whom the Lord said, “I do not know you: you arrived late.”
It is “only this day in our life,” he emphasized, “the present moment,” that we are able to renew “our alliance with God’s fidelity.”
If you struggle with this, one thing you can do is ask the Holy Spirit directly for help, the Pope said, simply praying: “How do I live, this moment?”
It is also important to cultivate a heart that is open to the Lord, one that has faith and is not caught in the snare of sin, he said.
The present moment is played out in our hearts, he said, since it is there that we are able to truly encounter God and have a relationship with him.
The Pope said it always strikes him when an elderly person, many times a priest or a sister, asks him to pray for them in their “final perseverance” before death. He responds to them, he said, saying, “But, you have lived your whole life well, all the moments of your day are in the service of the Lord, but you have fear…?”
No, they respond, they are not afraid, but they know that “even now my life is not set: I wish to live it fully, to pray that the moment arrives full, full, with the heart steadfast in the faith, and not ruined from sin, from vices, from corruption…”
For ourselves then, he said, we must search our hearts, asking ourselves the questions: “how does it go, my present moment, in the presence of the Lord? And my heart, how is it? Is it open? Is it solid in the faith?” Does it leave space for “the Lord’s love?”
With these questions, he said, “we ask the Lord for the grace of which every one of us has need.”