April 2022

Carpe Diem

Horace (65-8 B.C.) was the first to use the phrase “Carpe deim” made popular a some years ago by Robin Williams in the film, Dead Poets Society.  What Horace actually said was: “Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow!” 

Despite the rash of Carpe deim sweatshirts and T-shirts, Americans have demonstrated little or no understanding of Horace’s words.  Americans are definitely future-oriented.  The future will always be bigger and better, and no one wants to be considered “old fashioned” by holding on to old things.  Often the present is not thoroughly enjoyed because the future is felt to impinge.   Consider the father’s comment to his family while looking at the Grand Canyon, “only two more days till vacation ends and work begins again.”

Jesus understood the wisdom inherent in Carpe deim.  He taught His disciples to pray for “daily” bread.  The Gospels emphasize how God’s salvation is found “today” (Lk 2:11; 4:21; 19:9).  The future is unknowable and unpredictable.  In response to the question: “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom?”  Jesus answers: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts1:7).  

Jesus’ exhortation not to worry about food or clothing seems so unrealistic to Americans who plan the future in great detail.  At the same time Jesus acts to take care of people’s present needs.  When the disciples suggest he dismiss the crowd of 5000 and let them fend for themselves, Jesus is concerned that they be fed now (Lk 9:10ff).

There is much more that could be said on this subject.  For example, Jesus’ penchant for healing people on the sabbath may also reflect His preference for the needs of the present moment.  The Scribes and Pharisees’ were value-oriented to the past, “Keep holy the Sabbath.”  The sabbath observance is a tribute to God’s resting on the sabbath after creation, a past focus.  Jesus said the sabbath was made for us and not the other way around.  If I spend any more time on this article, I will be in danger of missing my own point.  So I am going to wrap this up, seize what is left of the day.       

WHK

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