The Four Last Things
Dear Friends in Christ:
What do you want out of life?
A big question, I know. But really, what is it that you want out of this life for yourself, your spouse, your children, and all those you love? Health? Happiness? Prosperity? Fame? All of the above? Do you really know? Do you ever think about it? If so, how often?
Is your answer heaven? It should be. There is nothing else and nothing less than eternal life with God that gives our lives ultimate meaning and purpose. If you read this and think to yourself, “Well, of course, but there is so much more that we have to do right now, here on earth, in this life.” Well, you just blew it! What we do right now on this earth is absolutely and intimately connected to our ultimate and eternal happiness and blessedness in heaven. Heaven needs to be on our mind every day! Yet sadly, in our world today, we are bombarded with the message of ‘heaven can wait!’ This message is both subtle and not so subtle and extremely pervasive. We pass it on to others, especially those closest to us, by those choices we make every day. We say that heaven is not all that important when we eat without giving thanks, when we say it is Ok to skip our prayers at night, or Mass on a holy day. We say heaven is not all that important when we don’t enroll our kids in CCE after 5th grade or when we say that soccer practice or a birthday party on a Saturday is more important than making it to Confession. We say heaven isn’t all that important when we join in on the office gossip or speak poorly of others, cheat our customers, use artificial contraception, hold a grudge, or fail to forgive.
What is the alternative to wanting heaven? It isn’t pretty. The Gospels and the Church teach that in the end there are four last things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. Every human being is going to have to face these. We are all going to die. We are all going to be judged by how we lived our lives and by the choices we made in this life. Those choices and that judgement will determine our eternal destiny. We will either be with God in eternal blessedness or without God in eternal damnation. Ignoring the end does not change the reality. Gambling and hoping for the best is not a good plan. A world and a life that is not directed to God and that does not have God in it, is not only devastating for us but for those around us. Our desire for God, our desire for eternal life with Him, changes us right now. It changes our outlook on things. The desire and longing for heaven changes our actions. It gives our lives ultimate meaning and the highest purpose.
None of us know when our lives in this world will end. Every day is a risk and an opportunity. Every day that we live is also a gift. Do we live as though this world is all there is? Do we make our choices based only on earthly glory, power, pleasures and riches? We see every day the ugliness and pain that desire for earthly power brings. We know how unsatisfactory and transient earthly pleasures, riches and glories are. We know deep down in our hearts and with our minds that all that this world offers, in the end, is nothingness. Is that what we really want and want for those we love- nothingness? God wants more for us. What God wants for us is an eternity of supreme happiness. God desires that each of us attain heaven. He wants it so much that He chose to give us His only Son. Jesus wants us to have heaven so much that He chose to give His life on the cross. Now the choice is ours. What do you want and what do you choose?
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately