Wisdom 18: 6-9; Psalm 33, Response: Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.; Hebrew 11: 1-2, 8-19; Gospel: Luke 12: 32-48
In his book “Homo Deus,” Yuval Noah Harari makes us rethink the developments in science and technology, as well as the rise to dominance of Homo sapiens.
Such challenges to our long-held beliefs are good and should be welcome pit stops in our journey of faith. Our readings this Sunday, likewise, are good points to “assess” our faith.
From the Book of Wisdom we hear of the faith of the Chosen People, whose faith in God’s promise gave them the courage to face trials. Abraham, being our father in faith, was always ready to do what God asked of him while at the same time engaging God in dialogue.
The Gospel gives us still another perspective on faith. It gives us eternity as our horizon.
Christ, at the end of the first part of the Gospel, lays it out simply as he tells us to store treasures in heaven. “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Or as St. Paul exclaims, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20)
Christ then uses the two parables to further emphasize our readiness for eternity. Scripture commentaries point out two senses of this anticipation of eternity. One refers to the second coming of Christ, and the other is when the summons to reunite with God comes in death.
Let us “challenge” these two senses of eternity and propose a third view of eternity not as a counterpoint, but hopefully, as an enrichment. Let me try to do this with three stories.
A month ago I shared in several of my homilies a conversation I had with a close friend on eternity. She asked if I believed in eternity, and naturally, I said “yes.” Then she asked me what eternity is for me.
I paused to really reflect on the question. Then I said that eternity is the kindness and the good that we do in this life, and the love we give to people as a fruit of this kindness. These are what we will leave behind in this world.
Over seven years ago, I met a couple I was going to marry and at the end of our conversation, I asked if they had any other concerns. The groom shared that he had a great fear of death. (His older brother passed away suddenly.)
Again, I paused and really reflected on the concern. I gave a rather “oblique” response about living one’s mission. If we dedicate ourselves totally to what God wants us to do, our mission, we would be living an integrated and holistic life.
I think in a spiritual, metaphysical and psycho-emotional way, we will not notice our transition from this life to eternity. Perhaps we will notice the transition in terms of human cognition, but from the other perspective I believe it will seem like a natural flow.
I caught my first glimpse 25 years ago of my mission, and the “horizon of my eternity.” In that moment I was certain that teaching was educating, training and forming students into becoming more loving persons.
Time and again God, sends us his call. As many spiritual writers would say, there is that initial clear call, one that makes us set out on the journey of our mission. Then along the way this becomes clearer, deeper, more concrete as it moves closer to the core.
In a spiral movement, we become more integrated and whole responding to the call of mission, which transforms us. It may seem repetitive, but there is always a new dimension we see emerging as signs of confirmation and integration toward the core.
I first saw my call to teaching almost 40 years ago when Fr. Frank Reilly, SJ, wrote to me: “Help the youth of the high school discover Christ in their life.” Then a decade and a half later, this evolved into a mission with great clarity: to teach is to love one’s students into excellence.
Excellence is whatever makes others more loving persons. Whatever their careers through which they are to live out their mission, it is to live this mission with greater and greater love.
Is eternity living our life here and now within the horizon of our mission? Is it making us the most loving persons we can become; living a life of integrity and wholeness that comes from fidelity and dedication to mission that connects our temporal life with the eternal; and living our life now with kindness, doing good to and loving others?
Perhaps when Christ comes, be it in his second coming or in the hour of our death, the transition will be “smooth” and “logical” because we have lived our life with, in and through him in mission with a love that is kind and good.
Eternity is making this world here and now better, more loving, kinder and filled with goodness. Then we shall see that the new heavens and the new earth are intrinsically one. —CONTRIBUTED