In 2007 Hollywood produced a movie called The Bucket List. 2 strangers meet in cancer ward. They find they have less than 3 months to live, so, they make up a list of all the things they want to do before they kick the bucket. “Kiss the most beautiful girl in the world.” “Climb mount Everest.” “Do something great for a total stranger.” And then they bust out of the hospital to do those things. The act of creating your bucket list is a putting out there of your dreams and goals and wishes, a writing of it down, so it is clear in your heads and hearts, so that what matters happens in your time and life.
Habbakuk the prophet, long before Hollywood even existed speaks that same truth a different way. “For the vision still has its time, still presses on to its fulfillment; and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it surely will come…” He’s talking about the same thing. Write it down. Record it. Put it out there so that the vision calls you and moves you to action.
So I have to tell you, an exciting thing happened on the Friday morning of convocation. We began a discussion as priests about the future of the archdiocese in light of our aging population. And it was “not a woe is me, I’m doomed” type of affair. Rather, it was a sober and energizing discussion about where God is leading his church and how we need to prepare for that day.
That item has been on my bucket list since 1995. As the Archdiocesan Vocation director, I was shown a bar graph of the “5 year groupings” of all the priests. And I noticed these three bars spanning 15 years, back to back to back made up the bulk of our diocesan priests. And a this little clock in my head started ticking, because like a tidal wave heading toward the shore, I knew those waves of age were getting closer and closer to the time when those folks would retire or meet their Lord. And that we had to do something. Like Habbakuk, some days it seemed like the vision would never ever get launched. And now the priests are thinking about it, and the first ever Archbishop’s pastoral planning day will take up the torch. Realized I could cross that item off of my list – get strategic planning started. Done!
I would like to think that item has been planted in my bucket list by the Holy Spirit as part of his dream, his vision for the church in St. Louis. But that got me to thinking, though. What if Jesus has a bucket list? What would be on it? What would he dream and vision for himself, and for us.
And then, I realized at least one item that would have to be on it. “See flying mulberry trees! Yep. That’s what Jesus wants to be able to cross off his list because of us. To know that we are willing to act on our faith in such a manner, that all things become possible. His saying in the gospel is not about actual flying trees, but about how strong faith is. You see, mulberry trees have extensive root system – very difficult to remove. YET, he tells us: “Only a mustard seed’s worth of it is enough to uproot it and cast it into the sea.” It is powerful stuff, this faith put into action. Enough to root out structures of sin, entrenched systems of politics, and even the unwillingness to get involved in the work of the kingdom.
Faith is less about ‘having more of it’, as the disciples pray, and more about the commitment to use what we have. And if we do, there will be flying mulberry trees all over the place. That is what Jesus wants to cross off his bucket list – seeing people willing to put their faith into action. So this week, I invite you to make two bucket lists – one for yourself and one for yourself with Jesus. What is in your heart to do before you die, and what do you think is in Jesus’ heart about what YOUR life should accomplish before you die? And then pray for the willingness to put that mustard seed of faith you have into action.
And if we do that, then Jesus will be able to cross that item off his list: See flying mulberry trees. Done it!