There is a story told of a priest who was visiting the oldest person in the parish, a woman 97 years old. The young clergyman asked her if she ever thought about the hereafter. “Goodness, Father,” she said, “I think about it all the time. I’m in the pantry, or the basement, or the sitting room and I think, ‘Now, what am I hereafter?’
The tale brings a chuckle, but the underlying truth is more sobering. What are we here after? All of us can give the accepted answer: “We are here to life a good life and get to heaven.” The big trouble is that all of us have different definitions of “a good life”. And the society in which we live has been working very hard to make sure that our good life matches their “good life” which is defined by $$$$$, power and beauty.
Let’s look at again at our purpose for being here on earth. When you are baptized, a radical change happens in your life. You are no longer simply human. You have been caught up into the life of Jesus Christ, and that must make your life different. You have within you a spark of the divine. Your life is not only yours any more. You have given it back to the God who created you, redeemed you and sanctifies you. You are in the business of preparing for the hereafter. That is all that matters.
If you marry, the person you choose is to be the one who can bring you closer to reaching your goal. Joy and laughter, deep feeling and tenderness, struggle and delight are only a few of the emotions you life takes on. The big difference is the goal you have. Money and power are not the prime targets. If your life is God’s, you work a strengthening that relationship. You do not leave the world of society; you simply have another world that engages your interest more.
For those who are single, or widowed, the only difference for them is the setting. If they life alone, these may have more opportunity for quiet reflection. But like their married sisters and brothers they have the obligation to show by their manner, by the kindness they show to visitors, clerks, children and neighbors how enriched they are by their living faith. They mention it now and then. God’s name comes up in their conversation. They may even create a standard closing for their letters that reflects the close relationship they seek to foster with their Father.
This “hereafter” is the joyous culmination of your life. It is the goal for which you seek. Just as the Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal won at the Olympics makes the work that preceded it all worthwhile, so the work of living a life above the natural will seem small compared with the splendor of your return to the Father. That is the goal of our lives. That is all that is important. That is what we are here after, whether in the pantry, the basement or the sitting room.
If we would begin to see in every person the loving, living Christ, how would our treatment of them change? Wouldn’t we be very careful not to miss any opportunity to find Jesus? And if we do not see, it must be that the seed of faith planted in us at Baptism has not been given enough of what it needs to grow. That is the challenge for all of us. That’s what it’s all about.
You are what it is all about!
Praise the Good God for all of you!
Spread the word!
Scatter the seed!
Help fill up the kingdom of Heaven with joyous children of God.
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg