A good friend of mine, and Godfather to my son died a few months ago, finally succumbing to complications from Cystic Fibrosis. He was only 52 years old, but if you know about Cystic Fibrosis you may know that a person born with that genetic disorder should not expect to live much past the age 40.
He was a holy man and about as ready to go home to the Lord as anyone I’ve ever known. In recent years, as his health was obviously declining, we’d speak of death and heaven and he would often say things that were unambiguously enthusiastic like, “I can’t wait!!” At his funeral services I found myself a bit jealous. He got to go home to God and I am left here to face not only my own potential future sins, but also the sins of others.
I don’t know about you, but oftentimes what’s in the news is so evil that I take consolation in the fact that I will not live on this Earth forever. From horrifying and mindboggling terrorist attacks around the globe, to the most lewd sexual scandals involving seemly decent public figures from Bill Cosby to Matt Lauer, we wonder what 2018 will bring us. We see the power of sin; what sin can do to a person is somewhat like what the brick does to the washing machine in the following video. Sin is no laughing matter, but I laugh every time I see this:
But as Christians we are not to despair about bricks being tossed about. Instead, we are called to pick up our cross, fend off the bricks and follow Christ to help him build The Kingdom of God on Earth. There is great joy in that, even as we relate to St Paul’s thoughts about life and death from time to time.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.” (Philippians 1:21-24)
So how do we navigate the awkward age between birth and death? Well, we all have a soul which means we have the ability to know a thing (with our intellect) and then act upon that thing (with our will). We’re allowed to make our own choices, even if we chose evil. Our will should desire Goodness and our intellect should desire Truth because we are made for God and God is Goodness itself and Truth itself. But the effects of sin weaken the will and dim the intellect, so that we no longer seek what is good or understand what is true. In others words, sin makes us spiritually lazy and stupid!
In this life, we either move our will and our intellect toward God or toward “self”. The closer we move toward God the closer our desire for truth and goodness is satisfied. The beatific vision or Heaven is when we are one in union with the source of all truth and all goodness. An eternal and inescapable state of dissatisfaction and loneliness comes when we have permanently moved our will and intellect toward “self” and away from God; this is Hell.
So as we find ourselves in another new year, let us ask ourselves….. What choices am I making each day? Where do I spend my time and money? Where do my idle thoughts go? Am I moving toward God or toward “self”? We may hear or read a lot about the choices we make with our time and money, but even the most careful Christian might underestimate the effect idle thoughts can have on us. I would say this is especially true for men as they struggle with chastity, and their bad behavior towards women ends up in the news or worse yet, lands them in Hell.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”1
- Charles A. Fowler, Biblical Truths for Men (Innovo Publishing, LLC, 2014), p. 115.