If Only

How many times have we said that? If only I had more time. If only I had more money. If only I had more faith.

Throughout my life, I have always been an “If only “ guy. Whether it is “If only I had made this choice, this would have happened.” I have even said this in this blog, “If only I had stayed in the church and not strayed away from the faith my life would be different.” And this is all true but I didn’t. I made the choices I did, did the things I’ve done and that’s that. I can’t change them now.

However, it goes even further than that. I still do this with my life now. For example, in my last post I talked about writing and how God has called me to spread His word through writing. Yet I don’t. When I ask myself why. I come up with all kinds of “If only I ‘s”. If only I had more time I could write more. If only I had a quiet place to work I would be able to concentrate better and be more productive. If only I were a better writer I would feel more successful and like I was making a difference and not wasting my time. And on and on.

I realized tonight that those two words “If only “ are nothing but an excuse. They are the same as saying “I quit “ or “I give up. We Catholics have something we call the Stations of the Cross. They will be found in every Catholic Church around the world and depict Jesus’ journey on Good Friday. There are fourteen stations and in three of them, Jesus falls. Three times he falls and each time he could have given up. Three times he could have said, “If only I had listened to Joseph I would still be a carpenter and wouldn’t be going through this.” Or how about “If only I had listened to Satan when he offered me the world I wouldn’t be suffering like this.” But he didn’t. Three times he fell and three times he got up. Instead of If only he said, “What If?” What if I get up and keep going I will save the world from sin?

And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, And said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’ ”

The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Lk 4:5–8). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

In my last post, I asked the question “What is a good Catholic?” I hope this at least begins to answer the question. A good Catholic doesn’t say “If only” but rather asks “What if?”

Would you like to learn more about the Stations of the Cross?

Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross

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