August 4, 2019: The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Careful what you sing for.


If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

Colossians 3:1

Once on a road trip home from Louisiana back to Houston, I kept one song on repeat nearly the whole time. The song, “Teach Me To Know” by The Lone Bellow, has a line that goes: “Teach me to know my number of days / Hold out my heart from getting carried away.”

I remember shouting this part of the song as loud as possible while flying by the state line. I gazed at the Texas flag at a passing rest stop and then noticed something black in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, almost rear-ending a minivan. I could read the names of the van’s stick figure family.

A horrible accident had forced traffic to one lane. The midday sun didn’t hide the miserable scene: two cars had flipped, warped metal and shattered glass sprayed across the interstate. Fire trucks and tarps blocked off part of the scene. From my journalism background, I knew that meant there were deaths. It hit me hard: That could have been me. I could’ve died, or even worse, hurt others. I could see the headlines. These were the stories I wrote about at my newspaper.

I turned off my stereo, did the Sign of the Cross and drove the rest of the way in silence. When I finally reached home, I ran to my family and gave them the biggest hugs.

Did I want to know what I had been singing for: how many days of life I had left? God doesn’t give us this answer in a clear way. We don’t know how many days we have left, but we can be certain of the love that surrounds us in every day that God gifts to us. Opportunities to grow in grace and experience redemptive mercy greet us every hour.

May the God of all creation not let us get carried away in world distractions like the rich man, but have “wisdom of heart” from the “infinite Ocean of beauty” in our everyday life. Amen.

James Ramos is a journalist and lead designer at the Texas Catholic Herald. His stories and photos are regularly found in Catholic News Service, Columbia Magazine and other publications. Follow his work on Instagram and learn more about him at He’s also great a high fives and group selfies. Say hi on Twitter sometime!