Have you heard the one about the woman who after she died left instructions to her children about her burial? She wanted a parking meter stuck at the front of her grave that said “Time Expired.”
As we rapidly approach the end of the liturgical year, “Time Expired” is also the theme of this Sunday’s readings. The current liturgical year began last Advent and it ends right before another Advent begins in two weeks. Shortly after Advent and Christmas, we will see the end of 2018 and begin a new calendar year. As another year rapidly comes to an end, we are reminded that eventually…all things will come to an end and eternity will begin.
Our Gospel describes the end of this world as we know it. The sun, the moon and the stars by which we mark the days and months and seasons of the year will disappear, according to Jesus. Because Christ is describing the end of the world in a way that people 2000 years ago could understand it, it is exactly why we don’t know how the world will end when it happens.
The last thing that Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel is that no one, not even Jesus, knows when all this will take place, or when He will return again to raise the dead back to life and initiate the reign of God and the final Kingdom to come.
Not knowing all these things shouldn’t frighten us, but it is a caveat for stepping back and looking at our lives more conscientiously…attentively…humanly.
Perhaps we start…by making peace with ourselves. Perhaps there are days when we are our own worst enemies.
Here are 10 suggestions that I found, with some of my own edits and additions, that we should embrace for right living…knowing that all things – including our lives – will come to an end one day.
- I won’t nurse a grudge: Nursing a grudge is a sure path to unhappiness.
- I won’t live in the past: God dwells in the present…not in the past. A preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to nothing but despair.
- I won’t waste time and energy doing battle with conditions I cannot change: I will keep my focus on what I can influence for the good of myself, for the good of the other, for the good of the world.
- Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during challenging times: Grace is an encounter. We don’t grow from running from problems; we grow from confronting them. And many times, what we imagine is the absolute worst, exists in our mind only.
- I won’t indulge in self-pity: Accept the reality that nobody gets through life without some sorrow, misfortune, or pain.
- I will not expect too much of myself: Sorry, but perception never meets reality. And when we think it does…feelings of inadequacy will be inevitable.
- I won’t become self-absorbed: I must find something bigger than myself to believe in because that’s a reality…for example, the truth of the Gospel, the love of God, the reality of the Kingdom.
- I won’t focus on what I have lost: Instead, I will focus on what I have left.
- I will not compare myself to others: If I do, I only become vain or bitter or jealous.
- I will not pray in generalities: I will pray as if I am in relationship. I will surrender myself to Jesus; I will ask for what I need; above all…I will ask for God’s will to be done in my life.
God willing these tips for right living will motivate us to be prepared. It should give us hope during any type of trial…realizing that our time and trial “now” is just temporary; but “eternity” is forever.