A day late, and a dollar short. (This email was suppose to be out yesterday-apologies) My dad used this phrase often with me when I was late coming home, late getting up for work (family work…as opposed to paying work), he used the phrase liberally! To take the phrase literally, it identifies you’re tardiness, and since you are a dollar short, there is no way that you can make reparations for said tardiness. After a time, I decided I would get smart and bring a dollar when I was late, giving it to dad after he recited the expected phrase. This did not go over well and taught me the valuable lesson, as well as another well used quip… money can’t buy everything.
The inference in this phrase transfers to our spiritual life. We all know in Romans chapter three, Paul states, “Brethren, we are all a day late and a dollar short”. OK, he didn’t say it quite like that, he did say “ …23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”. We live our life a day late and a dollar short. If we have sinned, we cannot pay our debt. Fortunately, Jesus paid that debt. Interestingly, did Jesus give us a blank check? Can I simply walk up to Jesus, who will be our judge, and just give him the dollar…the dollar that He gave me through His work on the cross? I bet that will work about as well as giving my dad the dollar when I was late.
So what do we do? Can we never pay God back for our debts? Of course we can. What did my dad want? He wanted me to gain a work ethic; to show up when I was suppose too. It worked, I am usually on time to my obligations. Being on time takes work though, I am notorious for leaving 10-15 minutes early, I have spent countless time in parking lots, waiting for a meeting. I have true remorse and contrition when I am late, to anything. I hate being late. But even with all my efforts, I am still late at times. Things happen, traffic, flat tires, and yes, mistakes on my part. What do I do then? I apologize first thing. The minute I show up I apologize for being late.
With our sins, we must do the same. We should, as mature Christians hate to sin. We are weak at times and do sin, but we should hate them. We should also, upon sinning, apologize to God. Afterwards, we must apologize formally through the sacrament of confession.
My dad did me a big favor by burning that phrase into my head. He also did me a big favor by training me to be on time. His lesson is part of me as an adult. Habits take time to seed, if you have a sin and don’t hate it, you likely cannot change overnight. You also will need help, I did not learn to be on time alone; and rest assured, left to my own devices, I would not have learned to be on time. So, how do you get that help? Ask your father! Many people struggle year after year with sins and never ask for help. Family and friends can be a great aid in troubled waters, but if they are unable to help, then the Church is here for you. Priests can help, outside of the confessional, to direct you in ways to put away your sins and begin to hate them. Get help, alone we are all vulnerable.
We are all a day late and a dollar short, let’s accept that, but let’s not learn to live with it. Pray to hate your sins. Go to confession often. If needed, go ask for help.