28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

     I believe that God speaks to us through the events of our I life. I believe that if we take some time to step back and connect some of the dots we’ll see that the events and circumstances that happen through the day are just one way that God is trying to show us something.  This Friday was one of the more confusing days of my life. If you haven’t figured me out yet, I don’t like to be confused. My mind spins and spins and spins until I can figure it out. I can’t go to bed confused, I just won’t sleep.  In the morning I returned to Priory, where I went to high school, with some of our middle school faculty to look at how we can improve our program. As I walked the hallways it seemed like it was just yesterday that I was one of those 7th or 8th graders I was walking past. Later that evening returned to Priory to celebrate my 10-year anniversary and as I stood in the hallways it felt like forever ago that I graduated from high school. I’m still not sure how 10 years ago can seem so close and so far away at the same time, but in the midst of this confusion I found myself asking, if I were to go back in time and do it all over again, what is the one piece of advice I’d take back with me. As I think back only 2 words came to mind, Memento Mori, the Latin words meaning remember that you will die, or in the words of St. Benedict “keep death daily before your eyes.”[1]

     Now I’m sure many of you are thinking well that’s kind of morbid. Perhaps it is, but as a priest and especially as one with a specialty in biomedical ethics, death is a part of almost every day of my life. While every death takes its toll on me and encountering death never gets easier to handle, I’m grateful it’s a part of my daily life because it has changed my entire perspective on life. You see up until a couple of years ago I was so caught up in the present I never stopped to ponder what comes next. I was so wrapped up in this world that I easily forgot that my actions now determine my eternal destiny. Up until a couple of years ago I was working so hard to make sure I wasn’t taking anything for granted that I failed to realize I was taking heaven for granted. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, but I was leaving the most import thing, my eternal salvation for granted. Up until a couple of years ago I was so caught up in setting myself up for the future that I failed to realize there may be no future because my life could end today.

     My friends we are what we repeatedly do so, if we want to be saints we have to be a saint every day. You see the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it is too low and we reach it. We have to aim high, aim for sainthood because if we miss we’ll end up in purgatory which leads to heaven, but if we aim for purgatory and miss, all hope is lost.

    While it may seem morbid, we can never forget our death. But how do we remember our death. We’ll I think the answer to these three simple questions will tell us if we are ready or not.

1. If I passed away right now, and someone told my whole life story are their certain things I wish they would leave out? Now all of us certainly have things from our past we regret, but if we have repented and learned from our errors then this only serves to make our life more beautiful and so our focus has to be on those things we wish people wouldn’t tell because we haven’t resolved them yet.

 2. If I passed away right now and someone was going through my belongings are there things I hope they wouldn’t find?

3. If I passed away right now, are there any relationships in my life that I wish I would have straightened out? If we answer yes to any of those questions then perhaps we are not ready for death.

     You see, Jesus is clear in today’s Gospel. All of us are invited into the kingdom of heaven, but not all of us will accept that invitation. Jesus gives us all the tools we need to be a saint, but He doesn’t force us to be a saint. Ultimately, we have to choose to be a saint for ourselves. Either we want to accept the invitation to the heavenly banquet So, I’ll leave you with one question. If you die today will you go to heaven? If not, what are you going to do so you can truly be prepared for that heavenly banquet?

 

[1] Rule of St. Benedict 4.47

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