Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The most powerful instinctive drive in every human being is for self-preservation. Self-preservation is the first law of human nature. With all of the fibers of our being we want to live. Yet, it is an inevitable fact of human life that we must die. A fact of life that we were gently reminded of on Ash Wednesday; “Remember man that you are dust and into dust you will return.” With all the fibers of our being we want to live, yet we know we have to die. That is the great human dilemma.
Down through the ages men have tried to resolve this dilemma. We all know the story of how Ponce de Leon came to Florida in search of the “fountain of youth,” a fountain whose crystal clear, cool, sparkling water would indefinitely prolong human life. If you go to St. Augustine in Florida, you can drink from that “fountain of youth.” But don’t put too much hope in it. Ponce de Leon has been dead for hundreds of years.
In our own day, medical science has exhausted the ingenuity of science and technology and spent billions of dollars trying to prolong life. And they have been eminently successful. So successful have they been that gerontology, the care of the aged has become a serious national problem. More and more people are living to be older and older. How do you care for these very old people?
But great as these modern, magical, medical drugs may be, they only push back a few weeks or a few months, they do not take away the inevitable hour of death. And so the dilemma remains. With all of the fibers of our being we want to live, yet, we know that we have to die.
Jesus came on earth to give us the answer to that great human dilemma. He came not to tell us that we are going to suffer and die. We find that out sooner or later for ourselves. Jesus came to tell us that we are going to live. “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”
And he didn’t come just to tell us. He could have done that through the prophets, or written it on stone tablets as he did the Ten Commandments. He came not just to tell us, he came to prove it. He became one of us, suffered and died on the cross, and on the third day rose from the dead. And he has promised that whoever believes in him will also rise and live forever. “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
The resurrection of Jesus is the Good News of the Gospel. It is the foundation of Christianity, the foundation of our faith, the foundation of our lives. “If Christ be not risen, vain is your faith, you are still in your sins, and those who have died in Christ have perished.” The Gospels were written after the Resurrection and from the perspective of the Resurrection, for without the Resurrection they have no meaning. The same is true of our lives. We must live our lives from the perspective of the Resurrection or they will have no meaning. This life is not the ultimate value. It is only the preparation for the life which really is worth living. How foolish it is to spend all of our time and energy in feathering this little nest here as if it will go on forever. “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Luke 12: 20)
Lord, teach me not to hold
on to this life too tightly. Teach me to take it as a gift, to enjoy it,
to cherish it while I have it and to let go gratefully and gracefully
when the time comes. The gift of this life is great but the Giver is greater
still. You are the Giver and in You is a life that never ends.
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