Eternal Benefits

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

September 4th, 2022 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:25-33

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

 Perhaps it is due to my age, but I have recently received quite a few unsolicited calls offering me “end of life care.” My wife and I have discussed this matter, so I am not interested in what’s being offered on these calls. But being reminded that some day I will die is not a bad thing.

The highly respected Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner, said that we all do well to think about our eventual deaths because such a thought can make us more serious about each passing moment and more fully care about our lives. And that’s always a good thing.

Which is how I understand today’s gospel reading where Jesus advises us to “hate” things that are temporary and focus on the things of God, because all else will eventually cease to be. God will exist into eternity, and hopefully, so will we. What exactly that will be like we are not told. As St. Paul writes, no eye here has ever seen what that is. But with each passing moment we move a little closer to finding out.

Thus in this life, no material thing or person or activity is all important. They may be part of our lives, but our connection with God is the only thing that really matters, and lasts. That idea should bring us comfort because everything else is secondary or transitory. Our daily lives here on Earth may fit into the Big Picture of our lives, but they will pass away when we enter eternal life with God.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore the present and simply yearn for what’s next. In fact, there is likely a close connection between now and then. The gifted writer, Mitch Albom, wrote a wonderfully imaginative book called The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It described the life of an ordinary person (like all of us) who basically lived a good life and who at times, along the way, went out of his way to help others. Some of those moments he knew about and some he didn’t.

So as the book describes it, once he is in heaven, he has meetings with five different people, who each told him what he did to make their lives better. This was part of his initial joy in heaven. He experienced that extra bit of happiness in knowing that he was an important part of the lives of others. Something we all would appreciate and treasure.     

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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