This Life: A Stepping Stone to Eternity

11-21-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“My daily prayer is that I can open the doors of my heart to Jesus and His expectations of me.” These are the words of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin in his book “The Gift of Peace” that he wrote a few months before his death on November 14, 1996. His is a very brief, to the point expression of faith, hope, and love. First and foremost we open the doors of our hearts to let the love of God in. We come to see how much He loves us and all people. Seeing that God’s love is so inclusive expands our vision beyond ourselves. As individuals and as the Church we are worth not only God’s time, concern, and attention, each one of us is worth His death on the cross in Jesus. There is no question or doubt about God’s love for me, the only question is, “Do I accept God and His love.” Through the vision of faith we see that God is far more than an acquaintance or someone I know about.

God is far more than I can ever understand in my life in this world. That is why my life here is only a stepping stone to life with Him for eternity in heaven. This does not mean I look beyond my daily life to God, but that I look at my daily life through, with, and in God. It means allowing and inviting God into my life, into my thoughts, words, and actions every day. It means putting God into the very core and center of my heart with joy, gratitude, and trust. God becomes the light through which I see myself and everyone else. God is the voice I listen to in the depths of my heart. God is in the words I speak, the compassion I share, the forgiveness I extend and embrace, the truth that puts everyone and everyone else in His perspective.

Jesus so clearly and simply said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6) No one else and nothing else enables me to see who I am, who everyone else is, and what gives meaning, purpose and direction to my life. Jesus enables us to see that life is not getting things done every day, but sharing the foundation of gratitude in our hearts with humble joy. Living fully is not about getting everything I want, but sharing all that is good within my heart. This simple insight can be very challenging, especially where there are disagreements, confusion, anger, and fear. Through His death on the cross and resurrection Jesus has already conquered and risen above sin caused by disagreements, confusion, anger, and fear. He is the light and presence of pure love, pure truth, and pure forgiveness.

Why can’t we all get along with one another? We have the ability to do that, all we need to do is simply open our hearts to Jesus and His love for us. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John18:33-37) Pilate asks Jesus: “Then you are a king?” He is far more than a king, He is our God who walks the journey of life with us, encouraging us by His example and presence to “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John13:34) His exclusive love for each one of us unites us with one another and Him.

I offer Psalm 16 for your prayerful reflection.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to you Lord "You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone.”

You have put into my heart a marvelous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in your land.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
Never will I offer their offerings of blood.
Never will I take their name upon my lips.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup,
it is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight,
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall
be. Amen.

Psalm Prayer: Lord Jesus, uphold those who hope in you
and give us your counsel, so that we may know the joy of
your resurrection and deserve to be among the saints at
your right hand.