On Staying Awake . .
“Life has many choices...eternity has but two”
I cannot say that I know for certain who authored the quote that kicks off today’s Reflection, but I couldn’t help but think of it as the parable of “the thief in the night” (Matthew 24:42-51) was read at Mass this morning.
“Stay awake!” proclaims today’s Gospel Acclimation in blunt and succinct fashion, “For you do not know when the son of man will come.” This Gospel is a poignant reminder of the unpredictability and fleeting nature of our Earthly trip. I received an Alumni Newsletter from the College I attended in the mail a few days ago and coincidentally enough happened to randomly flip to a page which posted, of all things, obituaries. These death notices were categorized by Class Year. When I saw names posted under the headings of recent graduating classes; 2011, 2014, 2019 even . . . I was taken aback, this despite the fact that I, much like many of you, have undoubtedly encountered and experienced the death of a young person.
So although this Gospel can at times lead to some soul searching (that’s good) coupled with some anxiety (that’s not so good), one need only step back to today’s 1st Reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-9) in order to be reminded that we do not walk in darkness, nor is our fate left dangling to the whim of the wind.
“I give thanks to my God always for the grace bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” Paul tells the residents of Corinth “...that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse, and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, carefully cultivated over time, we are provided with the path to salvation. One of the best prayers anyone can make on another’s behalf is that they will continue to grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As you may recall, there are seven and those gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
I’ve come to believe wholeheartedly that God would never deny this prayer request. He wants us to thrive, He wants us to be joyful . . . He wants us to be in Heaven. In deference to the legendary British rock band Led Zeppelin, these priceless gifts of the Holy Spirit are indeed the steps that lead to the Stairway to Heaven.
“Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock . . . and the door will be open to you.”