Today is the longest day of the year–or close to it. This means we can accomplish more today than on any other day of the year. Correct? Not exactly, we caution. It’s just a different disposition of our tasks throughout the 24 hours available to us.
It’s also the memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a Jesuit scholastic who died at a young age. He’s a saint, accomplishing much in a short period of time. Was he at an advantage over us older folks in getting a lot done in the amount of time available to him? Or at a disadvantage? And he is joined by other young saints in his achievements, such as his fellow Jesuits Stanislaus Kostka and John Berchmans, and young Passionists such as Gabriel Possenti, Gemma Galgani, Mary Goretti.
Well, it’s a matter of accomplishing the tasks to be done in the time available. We call this packaging. One way to approach this is by citing what “we have to do”: keep the 10 commandments, the 5 precepts of the church, the1752 entries in the code of canon law, the tax code weighing in at around 25 pounds, city and country ordinances, rules at our workplace–among others. Can we repackage all of this?
Jesus does so for us today. What is the greatest commandment in the law? This from a scholar in Jewish law (613 laws). Jesus responds: love God, and your neighbor as yourself. This accounts for the whole law and the prophets.
And John comments in today’s first reading that this commandment is not burdensome for one who has faith, believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
This faith is like an elixir. It contains all the nutrients we need for the day. We don’t have to engage in a harried chase after scores of substitutes in order to achieve the same ends. It’s a question of simplifying.
So, if we love and believe, we are associates of Aloysius Gonzaga and his peers in codifying “the things we have to do” to achieve our place with God. This is a simplification well worth pursuing.
Fr. Sebastian MacDonald, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.