(Luke 12:13-21) Cemeteries are special places. I love to walk among the tombstones, reflecting on the lives of those who have been buried there, reading the tributes etched into the hard surfaces. I love the peace and quiet, the wilted flowers and the rustling leaves, the faded pictures and the little mementos tucked into hidden crevices – reminders of the undying love and devotion of those left behind. Sometimes the epitaphs are sad – “Taken too soon.” At other times, they are affectionate – “Emily, dearly beloved wife of Jacob.” But I have yet to see an epitaph that read, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” The things of this world do not bring lasting happiness; they are not the things that satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts.
When we are young and healthy – and even when we are not! – it is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that we will live forever. It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work and studies, in the seemingly endless round of activities that pull us in so many different directions. It is so easy, in fact, that we sometimes lose sight of what is most important in life. Distracted by the things of the world, we forget that our days are numbered, that we do not know when our time on earth will come to an end. We forget about God and the need to prepare for eternity. We forget that no matter how successful we are or how important we may have become during our lives, none of it will be of any use to us in the life to come. We will leave this world just as we entered it – with nothing.
Jesus taught, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk 12:15). Although we have a responsibility to work in order to care for ourselves and those who depend on us, worldly goods are only the means for us to attain our goal, not an end in themselves. God blesses us with an abundance of things so that we can share with those less fortunate than ourselves, not so that we can relax and take life easy. What is important in life is that we should be “rich toward God”: rich in love and generosity, rich in faith and good works, rich in hope for eternal happiness. Our willingness to unselfishly share what we have with others is a sign that our love for Christ is genuine. If you were to die today, would you be ready?
– Sharon van der Sloot