15th Sunday after Pentecost 28.8.16 True life
The young man was brought back to life, and all were rejoicing. A physical resurrection is certainly a spectacular thing, and much to be desired; yet the Church has always believed that forgiveness of sins is a greater thing.
We tend to make too much of the physical life, and too little of the spiritual. It would be better to die young in a state of grace, than to die old in a state of sin.
We often hear, of one who has just died, that he ‘lived life to the full’. That might mean, in reality, that he indulged in a lot of life’s pleasures, but not necessarily that he did much good; especially the sort of good that God would have expected of him.
Did he develop his character as his life progressed? Did he receive and put to use the various gifts and talents with which God was blessing him? Did he multiply his talents like the good servants in the Gospel parable (Mt 25,14-30)?
There are others, again, who may live a more respectable life. They are not out getting drunk and stealing cars. Yet they ignore God completely in their lives, and set their own personal goals as to what they are going to do with their lives. This is not ‘living’; it is a form of death.
Our Lord said: I came that they may have life, and have it to the full (Jn 10,10). Fulness of life means essentially spiritual life.
Spiritual life needs to be cultivated, and protected. Nothing can kill the soul unless we consent to its death by choosing sin. Choosing to sin is like spiritual suicide.
Most people reject suicide, but quite freely commit sin after sin. Yet that is suicide.
Or at least, roulette. Sin is dicing with death - eternal death.
Yes, we can make a comeback from sin, but we can never be fully sure we have time for that; and there is the further problem that we could be so hardened by sin that we may not even want to come back.
We are truly alive only if fully engaged with God, calling on His wisdom, serving Him, trying to please Him. If we do sin, we quickly repent and get back on track, learning from the experience.
We can be fully alive spiritually even if not able to be physically active. We could be 89 years old, and not able to get around much, but still give God all we have (Lk 21,1-4 the widow’s mite).
It may be that sickness and pain is all we have to offer, but this can be more pleasing to God than someone who can get around, but never gives Him a thought.
Identity with God's will is the crucial thing. We want what He wants. He knows what we need, and how it all ties together.
We come to see our lives not as the personal pursuit of happiness, but entirely at the service of God, like soldiers.
Soldiers, and pilgrims. Soldiers ready to be sacrificed; pilgrims ready to move on quickly.
We do not fear physical death because it is not the end. We fear sin far more.
If we must cling to life, let it be above all spiritual life.
If God spares us physically, even then it is not just to seek personal goals, but be seen as a further chance to serve Him. We do not cling to this life just to have more pleasure.
We cannot measure how alive we are in these terms. We have no way of measuring spiritual life. Sufficient to say that every move towards God will make us more alive, and every move away will be a kind of death. We can get it right with His help.
May we live to the full, spiritually, and eternally.