Busyness, seen through the eyes of our culture, is a mark of pride or even validation of our importance. The phrase “I’m just so busy” is worn like a badge of honor. The more we are doing and the more places we are running to, the more we can justify not spending time in prayer or even going to Mass. Archbishop Schnurr, in Radiate Christ: A Pastoral Letter to the Faithful of the Archdiocese, poses twelve questions for us to reflect on regarding our relationship with Christ. The first three speak to our priorities and how we use our time.
1. Am I open to the encounter? Do I believe that Christ wants a relationship with me?
Well of course, I am open to an encounter with Jesus and believe that He wants to have a relationship with me. Question #1….check, done! This is all a no-brainer so far, isn’t it? Back up a second and think about how an encounter and a relationship with Jesus Christ takes place. It’s not enough to just be open to the encounter and to believe He wants a relationship with us. That’s like meeting someone and thinking, I would like to be friends with that person, and then never making time to spend together. Growing a friendship with Christ requires intentionality for spending time together and having honest conversations.
2. Do I give space and time in my life for this encounter to take place?
Hmmmm, this question cut a little deeper. My faith life can become a series of things to check off. Daily Mass…. check. Monthly confession….check. Daily Rosary….Check. Novena of the month….check. As I work through my checklist, do I really use my prayer time to let an encounter with Christ take place? I pray, but my mind is spinning with how much work I need to get done, what to add to my grocery list, and who I need to remember to call. Space and time, that’s what God gave us when He created the world and that’s what He wants us to use to encounter Him. Sometimes it feels easier to accomplish hundreds of tasks in a day than to sit still and have a focused conversation with Jesus.
There’s this great quote from Corrie Ten Boom that says “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” If I am so busy that I can’t sit down and be with Jesus, then the devil won. If I’m so busy that I don’t have time for Mass, then the devil won. If I’m so busy that I can’t go to confession, then the devil won.
3. Are there periods of silence in my day so that I can draw closer to God?
The prophet Elijah had the greatest lesson ever on how to recognize the presence of God. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, Elijah while hiding in a cave, is told by God that His presence will pass by Elijah. There is a mighty wind that tears mountains in two and crushes rocks. That’s not God’s presence. There is an earthquake and a fire, and that’s not God’s presence. It is in the still small voice that Elijah recognizes the Lord’s presence. The only way Elijah could have heard that voice is if he quieted himself. That’s probably one of the toughest things to do when you are always “so busy”. Psalm 46:11 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God!”
Busyness must stop for us to be still. Encountering Jesus can’t be done while multi-tasking. Stillness must be worked at and practiced. Reflect on these three questions that Archbishop Schnurr poses in his wisdom and then try this, set a timer on your phone right now for five minutes and just sit in silence and see what Christ has been waiting to tell you. Don’t let the devil make you too busy for Jesus.