That moment you park your car, step out and look up at the night sky and see all the stars twinkling and a cloud slowly drifts past the moon and you realize that those mountainous stressful struggles you’re dealing with are really ant hills in comparison. Then you realize that they’re actually crosses given as a gift.
What is it you’re living for? What is it that consumes the majority of your thought and time? For me it’s a countless list of things that are a mix of important moments and trivial details. My wife and kids, the teens in my youth program, that dumb driver in front of me and the lack of success of my garden, to name a few. But does that really answer the first question? What am I living for? It often seems to me like I’m stuck in the moment, trying to finish a list of tasks so that I can get to my real goal… relaxing, taking it easy, zoning out. Each night I get home and think to myself, what has to be done so that I can relax? That seems to be my primary goal, the easy life… retirement.
Is that the goal of my life, retirement? The good life? I hope not, I pray it’s more than that. I pray that the goal of my life is resurrection… eternal life, because how I live my life affects not just my eternity but the eternity of others. But it’s so difficult to really live that one out, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to simply live to relax or to have fun; the resurrection is so far out there, a long way off and it’s so easy to forget about and to get lost in all the little details, pleasures and stresses in life. But I also think it’s so difficult to live for the Resurrection when I don’t really know what that is. I mean yes, we have our general answers of paradise, the eternal wedding banquet, perfect joy, etc. But if we’re being honest, those things are really quite vague and it’s hard to live life for something so vague and distant. It’s hard to contemplate it; to focus on something that is out of focus.
We need to contemplate it, don’t we? After all, how we live our lives today affects us both tomorrow and for eternity. Every action has a consequence; our lives are a sum total of how we have loved and surprisingly even the smallest of choices play a part in how we love. And in contemplating the Resurrection we can gain perspective on our lives today, we gain direction and motivation for those choices. I recently heard a priest state that the capacity by which we love here on earth is the capacity we will have in heaven to be filled with God’s love. Think about that! If I stretch my heart to the size of a thimble then I will be eternally satisfied with a thimble-full of God’s love! While I will praise God for eternity for him filling me, I don’t want just a thimble-full of God’s love, I want an ocean-full! I want my wife and children to have an ocean-full! I need to focus on the unfocused.
St. Theresa of Avila once said, after having been granted the “grace” of visiting hell that it is worth spending your entire life saving just one soul from hell. How many people do we casually let slip into hell because (fill in the blank with some lame excuse)? How we live our lives affects the lives of others and their eternal life. I need to focus on the unfocused!
But I have so many other things weighing me down, so many burdens and stresses and responsibilities! I can’t be responsible for someone else’s salvation! I’m just trying to survive the day!
I hear that excuse a lot… I say that excuse a lot; I probably think something like it at least once or twenty times a day. But the beauty of focusing on the Resurrection helps me to carry the crosses I’ve been blessed with. The Resurrection gives our lives meaning and direction; otherwise I’m just carrying my cross in circles, getting nowhere. Without the Resurrection, Christ was just carrying his Cross through Jerusalem in a never-ending maze of uselessness!
The Resurrection of Christ puts everything we do and everything we believe into focus and opens up the potential that even our worst and most meaningless sufferings take on a glorious purpose. The Resurrection wasn’t just a renewal of this life of endless suffering broken with moments of relaxation and pleasure. The Resurrection of Christ is an entirely new life! The Resurrection opens up our lives onto an eternity of meaning, an eternity of hope, and an eternity of love, so vast that these words, “meaning, hope, love” are but straw to a fire (as St. Thomas said after having been granted the grace of visiting heaven). Or, as it says in 1 Cor. 2:9 “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even so much as dawned upon man, what God has in store for those who love him.”
Eternity is not far off into the future, or even far off into this brief flicker of a life. It is right next to me. Eternity isn’t out there, somewhere in the future. I’m not walking towards eternity. I’m walking next to it. It’s right there just a step away to my right and my left, behind and before me.
Perhaps my resurrection is so out of focus because it’s too close? Perhaps it’s not my resurrection I need to focus on but my neighbors? Perhaps, instead of focusing on my own crosses I need to focus on lifting my neighbors? Then suddenly, I hope, I’ll be able to comprehend a bit of the incomprehensible that awaits each of us and that is worth spending my entire life just to help one other get there?