Margaret Mead, the famed social anthropologist, coined a very thought-provoking statement. She said: “Living is like parachuting. You have to do it right the first time!” There is hardly a truer statement than that. We have only one life to live. We live, we die, and then we experience eternity. It’s a curious fact that, for many people, writing their last will and testament is a frightening task. People must plan for loved ones who will outlive them.
The issue of wealth brings up something interesting. A recent study was made of multi-millionaires. Twenty-five percent said that they still did not feel secure. There is always more to be sought and gained. After all, 50 million is better than 40 million. How many millions would it take to make a person feel secure?
The downslide of the US stock market a few years ago was headline news for months. One can understand those who had limited funds had a right to be concerned. But those with vast fortunes were concerned as well. It proves that when it comes to emotional security, no amount of money can put a person at ease. The reason is because one’s life is never completely in one’s hands. Accidents happen without warning.
Wise people—and hopefully they are people of faith—understand that human life is made up of situations beyond our control. When we speak of living life right the first time, we realize that everyone’s journey ends just as it did for Jesus. So we take care of ourselves as good stewards of the life given to us by God. Jesus’ teaching was rather simple: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” It is amazing that the formula for a good life could be written on a small piece of paper.
Walking with God
Our goal is to make our way in this life so that when our journey comes to an end, we put ourselves in God’s hands and say, “Lord, here I am.” We have faith and trust that God has always been by our side. Our lives have had ups and downs, successes and failures. We all die sinners. But who were Jesus’ friends? Sinners, of course! He was at home with them all. But we are blessed to know that our ultimate goal is to be with God for all eternity—as well as our loved ones who have gone before us.
Death is not the end of life. It is merely the moment between two journeys: our temporary life on earth and our eternal life with the Lord. It’s not about saving ourselves. After all, Jesus did that with his loving sacrifice on the cross. We simply try to love and serve him as best we can, which is never perfect. But neither was that of Dismas, the good thief, nor were Jesus’ fragile and at times unfaithful disciples. And it is always the greatest saints who proclaim their own woundedness.
In other words, doing the right thing in our lives is simply walking hand in hand with the Lord. One thing we know for sure is that he will never let us go.
Dear Friar Jeremy: I loved reading your E-spiration! It made me feel so good because my husband, Randy, has ALS, so it really picked me up knowing that God will keep us together. Joanne
A: Dear Joanne: I pray for your husband, Randy, and for you. God knows your deep love for each other. When you committed yourselves to each other in the Sacrament of Matrimony, you heard the words of Jesus: “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh….What God has joined, humans must not divide” (Mt 19:4-6). God wants to keep you in that love now and in heaven. My prayers are with you! Friar Jeremy
Dear Friar Jeremy: I recently lost my youngest son, Zakri, 14, to an unexpected tragedy of youthful stupidity. The last several months have been really hard. Your “Heaven Awaits” E-spiration is the first thing I have read that has given me hope. It is one thing to profess a faith; it is entirely another to cling to it and live by it in the darkest moments of your life. Thank you. I pray you have a peaceful day. Rachael
A: Dear Rachael: I can only hope to understand how painful it is to lose a child in a tragedy. Trust that you will see Zakri again in heaven. Over and over, Pope Francis stresses God’s special love for every human being. In his encyclical “Laudato Si,’” he quoted Pope Benedict XVI: “We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason each of us is the result of the thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved.” Zakri is embraced by God’s love. Friar Jeremy