Beginning with the end in mind

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | November 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

The month of November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints, where we remember all God’s holy ones who were victors in the great contest of life and loved God with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength. These heroes, our brothers and sisters, are now experiencing in heaven the perfect joy for which our hearts long.

The second day of November is the Feast of All Souls, inviting us to pray for all of our deceased relatives and friends, asking the Lord in his mercy to cleanse them of the defects of their sins in purgatory so they may be admitted into the eternal heavenly banquet.

Bishop Andrew CozzensIn addition, the month of November ends with the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 24. This last Sunday of the liturgical year invites us to meditate on the end of time, when Christ will return to finally and fully establish his kingdom, and judge the living and the dead, giving to all who have lived for him the mercy they seek.

The point is clear. The whole month of November focuses us on our end, the goal of our lives, which is heaven. The readings of this month will regularly put before us the judgment that we will all face at the end of our lives.

This fact is not meant to scare us. Rather, it is meant to remind us, to focus us on what life is really about.

We are called this month to meditate on our end in order to change how we live today. The liturgy of the Church is reminding us how important it is to begin with the end in mind!

When we understand the human heart, we understand that we were made for heaven because we were made for God. We were made to live in an eternal communion with God, without sin, in unending and limitless love. It is our limits that are the source of all our suffering in this life. Not just the limited number of days each of us has on earth, but also the physical, emotional and even spiritual limits we have. These limits cause us pain because we never find fully the satisfaction of our desires, and because in our seeking we often choose sin by reacting out of fear, hurt, pain and selfishness, and through this sin we cause more pain.

Of course, the greatest of these pains is death, when it seems the limit or our life reaches finality and breaks the bonds of love we have with others. In fact, all this suffering points to a deeper truth, a truth which Jesus Christ reveals in his own life, death and resurrection.

In Jesus, God himself entered into our limited lives, embraced our life of suffering and broke through the limits of this life, offering to all who love and follow him the fulfillment of their deepest desires in a life of everlasting communion with him and his Father in the Holy Spirit.

Does the fact that we were made for heaven mean that we will never find any happiness here? Does it make us less committed to building a better world? No, it does the opposite. When we meditate on our final end with God, it allows us to give meaning to the suffering we endure in this life. We begin to see the suffering of this life as part of our service to God, just as Jesus embraced suffering out of love for us. Through suffering we overcome sin and give ourselves to him. It is not meaningless, and it can lead to deeper happiness.

When we meditate more on how we were made for God, it makes us want to give ourselves to him now! It means that every day offers us a foretaste of heaven, a chance to draw closer to him. From our participation in holy Mass (which is a foretaste of union with God and prepares us for it), to our giving our lives in service to others, we are always seeking to draw closer to the one we love here and now as we prepare for heaven.

Serving others becomes a way to serve Jesus, as he himself told us in describing how we will be judged at the end, “Whatever you did for the least, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).

One of the blessings of my life is to see so many in the archdiocese give of themselves for others in this way. They are living today in preparation for heaven. They include Catholic school teachers I encountered at the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence’s Catholic School Summit, who generously serve in schools to share the life of Jesus Christ with their students. They include the many hundreds of generous people who attended a recent banquet for Abria Pregnancy Resources because they want to make the love of Christ present to women and men in crisis pregnancies; and they also include the young women and men who attended our recent vocation dinners, who are discerning the gift of their whole lives in religious life or priesthood.

So many people in our archdiocese are letting the end shape the way they live today. And these are just some of the groups I experienced in the last few weeks.

This month the Church invites us to meditate on our end. Let us allow that end to shape the way we live today, seeking the fulfillment of our desires in drawing closer to him.

Comenzando con el fin en mente

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Category: Only Jesus