We are all going to die. We are all dying as I speak. Some of us may be dead before the year is out. Just imagine, our time on planet earth is coming to an end. Yes, time flies, remember death. We find ourselves in the season of Lent. The sacramental used on Ash Wednesday is the burnt remains of palms from last year’s Passion Sunday. Those who heralded Christ as the messiah when he entered Jerusalem would all too quickly shout, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Who could have imagined that this frightful rejection of Christ and his subsequent murder at our hands as sinners, would be turned around by God as a source of hope and new life? God’s ways are indeed mysterious.
Are we afraid to die? Do we run away from thoughts of our mortality? Ultimately, none of us will be able to run fast enough. The poor homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk and the wealthiest billionaire, will both meet the same end. Death is the great equalizer. “Remember O Man, that your are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Time is short. “Repent and believe the Gospel.” These two acclamations show the stark realism of the Christian faith. Death makes us better appreciate the small joys of this life and hints at the wonders which await us in the life to come. As C.S. Lewis tells us, real life has yet to begin. What we know now are the barest shadows of what awaits us in Christ. The Christian response to death is not despair, but a courageous witness to the Gospel of Life and a confident hope in the promises of Christ.
Ours is a culture of death pretending to be one of life and freedom. The unborn child is often seen as expendable and unwanted, all so that we can act irresponsibly. The defective child is deemed better off having never been born and growing numbers have been left to die afterwards, Those who are seriously ill or advanced in years are given minimal care by prominent health-care institutions so as not to hinder profit margins. People still suffer malnutrition and even die of hunger while many of us grow fat. The mentally ill and poor roam our city streets as vagrants and have been known to freeze to death of exposure in the cold of winter, all because our hearts were colder still.
When will we learn? Why do we act as if we have all the time in the world? Christ has given us the invitation and the ability to enter into the divine life. We can and must love as he loves. Ours should be a love of God that is so abundant it spills over upon our neighbor. Those who would love God, love life itself. Our council does much in this light. We help mothers and their babies, born and unborn; we feed the hungry; we gather clothing for the poor and support shelters; we remember through fund-raising the mentally challenged; and, we do so much more, not least being our devotion and prayer to God as his servants. Everything is a gift. We are his. All life belongs to God. We are but his stewards. Remember death so that we will always know the true measure of LIFE.
Your Servant in Christ,
Fr. Joseph A. Jenkins, Jr.