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Our Last Day On Earth
By Michael S. Bauml

Not long ago, I was saddened to hear of the death of a young child that I knew, in a traffic accident. Like most of us, this was not the first time that I was acquainted with someone who died very early in life. Many of our youth do not reflect upon their mortality. They tend to take risks; they jet ski, ride dirt bikes, etc. They have a sense that they are "invincible." In fact, many of the video games that they play can be set on invincible, or God Mode, where nothing can hurt them during the game. Perhaps it is this sense of invincibility, not recognizing their mortality, which makes many of our young people less focused on the religious aspects of their lives than they might be when they are older. As parents, we do not always push them to attend services, or fast, or attend confession and communion as often as they should. There is a sense that they will have time for these things later, and we are afraid to push them away from the church. Tragically, many times this is not the case.

As adults we are in many ways guilty of the same mistakes. How many of us truly believe that today or tomorrow may be the last day that we spend on this earth? We also tend to have this same sense of invincibility; that our time is some time in the future. We constantly plan for upcoming events, worry about our pension and retirement, or our comforts, at the expense of our religious lives. One of the parables that has moved me the most in my life is found in the Gospel of St. Luke. Christ speaks of the rich man whose ground yielded plentifully, and he was concerned about building new barns to store his bounty. God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" Luke 12:20. There are numerous references in the Bible referring to the shortness of our lives. It is clear that we survive and exist only through the Will and Mercy of Our Lord. If, in fact, you are reading this article, it is only thru His mercy that He allowed me to live long enough to finish it, and you long enough to read it.

Additionally, although we believe in the coming of Christ and the Resurrection, do we really believe it might be tomorrow? We pray in the Creed that we "look for the resurrection of the dead", but don't we really mean sometime in the future, when we are done with all that we have planned and want to do? Consequently, we concern ourselves with the here and now and do not always focus on the life to come. We are warned not to take this approach by Christ himself. "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching." Luke 12:37. We are further warned that He will come like a thief in the night, when we least expect it. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Luke 12:40.

Am I saying that we should constantly be worried about our deaths and walk around all day with a sense of impending doom? Of course not, but I do say that we should strive to be prepared for our death and the coming of the Son of Man every day of our lives. How do we do this? We do this with prayer and fasting, attending church services as frequently as possible, by doing good works, by learning all we can about our faith, by reading the Bible daily, by participating frequently in the sacraments including confession, in short, by making Christ the center of our lives instead of all our worldly concerns. Look at it this way, when it is our time to leave this world or time for Christ to return, would it look better if we were attending Liturgy or a sporting event, reading the Bible or watching pornography, fighting with our friends or family or doing charitable deeds? Will we fall short of what we should be doing to prepare? Almost certainly, but we are also blessed that if we call on His name with humility and repentance, God is as forgiving as He is when we do fall short.

As lent approaches, let us examine ourselves and strive to prepare for His coming. Let us strive to have a "Good defense before the dreadful judgment seat of Christ." Instead of concerning ourselves with our retirement from work in this life, let us be more concerned with our retirement into the next life. In the Gospel of Luke, Christ is asked if there are few who are saved and he answers, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door saying, "Lord, Lord open for us," and He will answer and say to you, "I do not know you, where you are from." To me, these may be the scariest words in the entire bible. Let us strive and pray that when our time comes, none of us may here the words, "I do not know you."

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