August 2, 2018
“Inspired to Make a Difference”
If you could travel back in time, what person would you want to meet or which event would you want to witness (or even change)? Would you speak with Capt. Smith in April 1912 on the bridge of the Titanic and ask him: “Race at Full speed at night into the ice fields. What could possibly go wrong?”
Would you like to be able to determine what the real electoral count from Chicago precincts were in 1960 – and did Kennedy actually win or lose Illinois and thus the election? (And you folks thought presidential electoral political chicanery was invented in 2016! Seriously?)
Would you like to have listened to the missing minutes on the Nixon tapes before they were erased? Would you have wanted to be in the stadium and cheered (perhaps alone and being abused) when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and changed processional sports forever? Would you have loved to have seen the faces on the Cardinals in the Vatican Ecclesiastical Industrial Complex when in 1959 Pope John XXIII decided that his Church needed to open the windows and let in the Holy Spirit? “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”?
On a lazy hot summer day, it’s always fun to play “what if”. But we are creatures bound and limited by time. We can only know our present, and can only act within the horizon of our own experiences. We can never know with certainty what others may have seen or heard or felt in the past. As limited human beings, we remain flawed and fragile, hope filled and failure prone. The limitation of temporality is a reminder that we only create our stories in the “now”.
And no one will ever really travel back in time and judge why they (or we) did what was done. No one will ever be able to truly justify another’s motivations or actions with absolute certitude. We live in this moment and are responsible now for what our decisions or actions cause. For the last time, we are creatures living in the present and journeying into an always uncertain future. We have no power to change what has been!
So in answer to my own question: what person or event would I wish to witness if I could travel back in time? Frankly, what’s the point? I would prefer to live life to the fullest now, and work with all the gifts God has given me now and do my limited human (but grace filled) best for our future. I’ll leave the past to itself.
— Fr Joe