November 18, 2018
So when, in time, Israel was given to understand that this earthly life is not the end of the story, that God offers life eternally to those who want it, it may have been a bit surprising, but one couldn’t really say it was out of character. Nothing is too difficult for God, even the defeat of death, the enemy that has been made Christ’s footstool. First Daniel and then Jesus remind us this week that this life, with all its attendant joys and struggles, is lived against an eternal horizon, and that means what we do in this life has eternal consequences. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “This life is not everything. There is an eternity… Is it not precisely this reality that bestows on life its seriousness, its freedom, its hope?”
This time of year all things — the Scriptures, our Tradition, visits cemeteries, the ofrendas, the news, and the maple tree in our front yard — conspire to remind us of this stark reality: we will die. And so they urge us to remember how serious this life is, precisely because it is only the beginning of our story, it is the threshold to eternity. The month of November and this week’s readings exhort us to live every moment with that in mind and to snatch up every opportunity to love God and neighbor while we can. In our final hour, the painful words of the poet Marguerite Wilkinson might be ours: “For I am haunted night and day/By all the deeds I have not done;/O unattempted loveliness!/O costly valor never won!” We pray we will also have the joyful surprise of seeing the ways that God made, through the tiniest promptings of grace, something lovely for eternity in and through us.
In the meantime, let’s remember in this month of November to pray for all those who have gone before us, and to help them on their way to God. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Requiescant in pace.