Jesus and the sum of our lives

Ric Elias was a passenger on Flight 1549 which crash-landed in the Hudson River in January 2009. Rick learned three things as he faced immediate death. In his words: “I no longer want to postpone anything in life. And that urgency, that purpose, has really changed my life.”

The second thing he learned, “I decided to eliminate negative energy from my life. … I've not had a fight with my wife in two years. It feels great. I no longer try to be right; I choose to be happy.”

The third realization he illustrates watching a performance by his-first grade daughter. Through his tears he realizes “the only thing that matters in my life is being a great dad.” What matters is doing a great job at whatever God has called us to be.

Hopefully God will spare us this sort of life-changing drama to trigger the moment of grace when we know our lives are on track. In times of melancholy or depression, we may have doubts about God and his plan. There is a solution.

St John Paul II gave us a perfect summary of the Christian life: remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence. He stated this citing Luke’s “put out into the deep” (5:4) for a catch.

We know the result: “When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish.” (Luke 5:6). With this simple sentence St. John Paul II provides a key to living a fully integrated Christian life.

“Often we forget to remember the past with gratitude, especially when there is suffering. When we are thankful for how God has acted in our lives, we are able to see his hand in it all. This allows us to see God’s presence even in the suffering, reassuring us that he has a plan for us.” (from “Are you stuck in the past or worried about the future”, Philip Kosolski, Aletia November 14, 2019).

Kosloski gives us this key to Christian living: “We can only change the present. The past is already gone and the future is not here. It is only in the present moment that we can change and live with joy our Christian faith. Everything else is out of our control, but we can change what we do in the present moment.”

With Christ we can always be in a win / win situation. In our world we often have a tunnel view of life’s struggles. If I win, you lose. The world is made up of the have and have nots. It is the Zero-Sum Game of participants facing gain or loss. 

Life is not a Zero-Sum game, Father Brendan McGuire states in his homily “Zero-Sum Game”. There is no in or out in God's view. Our God is the God of the living and God of the dead. We are all alive in God's view. God has an enormous gray scale. 

In the end, the resurrection is open to all who want it. Until our last breath, we get a choice, McGuire says. We live out the joy of knowing that we are going to have the resurrection. That should change our lives, period. We should be walking on air.

“The funny thing about the heart is a soft heart is a strong heart, and a hard heart is a weak heart.” Criss Jami

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By Ken Rolheiser