Do you think about death sometimes? Wonder how long you’ll live? How you will die?
I do. Not in a curious way or a dark-Edgar-Allan-Poe sort of way. Just a fleeting thought now and then.
Today’s First Reading is from Philemon in which St. Paul, with St Timothy, writes, 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.
My life is not my own. As long as there is breath in me, my life is supposed to be for other people.
Christ living in me.
For to live is Christ, to die is gain.
So, here I am. Still living.
I will lift a closing prayer out of the same passage from today’s First Reading.
My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death, for the progress of another and the increase in joy of the faith in all on account of my faithfulness to the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For some reason, the ELO song is going through my head. Only instead of it being a song to some guy named Bruce, it is directed as an arrow meant for the enemy of our souls who just wants to bring us down, who sometimes wants us to only see a downside.
There is no downside. To live is Christ. To die is gain.
I’ve had the same dream twice in the last few weeks.
In the dream, I am dying – not the kind of dream where you are falling and about to hit the ground or someone is going to shoot you and you’ll be dead instantly.
I am dreaming that I have an illness and the loneliness & terrifying suffering stretches out before me. There. Is. Nothing. Else.
I feel the panic rising in me. There is no escape. No one can help me. No one can even walk with me.
Upon waking, I realize that I am not dying. I am not suffering. I do not have a fatal illness. But I also know that I will die. Eventually, I will enter that dark night. And that is a sobering thought.
The only antidote to the terrifying realization (that I will die – and everyone that lives and breathes will eventually die) is that Jesus Christ has conquered death. The dark night will lead to eternal morning. This life is not the sum total of everything – and believing in eternal life does not make one a weak-minded, delusional myth-maker.
No. This hope is wrapped up in strength. It is affirmed by a reality bigger than human synapses that formulate a reality which may or may not be real. God is eternal. The eternal One has become one of us. God entered our world – and hope has triumphed over darkness and death.
There is no gift that comes close to topping that.
If you don’t believe that, then what is the point of a Christmas Tree? Why buy presents at all? Turn off the radio and stop whistling along with Bing Crosby. Or. . .
. . . believe in the good news of the Gospel. All of it – every ornament and song and busy store aisle, every card and ribbon and candle, every ham sandwich and piece of homemade fudge, every sugar cookie and Christmas stocking – has meaning! Rejoice–
Christ, our savior is born!
Come, let us adore Him.
The single greatest impact on my conversion was the help and wisdom I gained by watching EWTN programming. It continues to be a source of reliable information and spiritually edifying programming.
Perfect For Your Bible Study–with free Skype session with author on the last week.
Denise is a nationally recognized writer and speaker. For more information on how you can have Denise share her conversion story or speak on a variety of topics from the Blessed Mother to Evangelization at your conference, parish mission, or gathering, go to CMG Booking.
(Click on heading above to access CMG link)