Today’s Gospel has been one that has motivated me in my actions in the past year or two. It may be uncomfortable for us to grapple with our own mortality, but if we don’t we risk falling into peril. In Matthew today we hear of the virgins standing by for the arrival of the bridegroom. Some of them in their complacency allowed their lamps to lose light, while others stayed ready through the night. Those who stayed ready were welcomed into the wedding feast, while the others were locked out as they had arrived too late. Through our eyes - the wedding feast is to be seen as heaven, but how prepared are we to enter into the feast?
As I previously said, it is uncomfortable for many of us to consider the fact that some day we will die. That day may be soon or it may be many years from now, but either way we know that at some point that day will come. The best way we can come to accept our mortality is to look at death for what it is: the opening of the door to heaven. We are restless here on earth because we were made to return to our eternal home. St. Augustine said it best when he said,
Our heart is restless until it rests in you.
And if we look at death in this light, we come to understand that death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Physical death holds no power over us: Jesus has already conquered death for us via the Resurrection. Contrarily, spiritual death is what we should ultimately fear. Again, physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, spiritual death is. So what is spiritual death? For today I will define spiritual death as a life lived without Christ and in the state of sin. And why is this worse than physical death? Spiritual death leads to us missing out on heaven, it leads to eternal peril. Of course it is okay to still not want to die and have life here on earth with family and friends, but it is important for us to understand that is not the end all be all of our existence. The life of a Christian is constantly striving for the ultimate goal of heaven. With spiritual death, this goal is impossible. However, with physical death, this goal is achievable.
Stay Alert and Ready
As we continue to explore today’s Gospel and our own mortality, we are reminded of the need to stay alert and ready for when we are ultimately called home. How do we do so? By living a heavenly life here on earth. No - we cannot live in heaven per say, but we can live our lives in unity with God while we are here. It reminds me of the quote, “be in the world, but not of it.” We can find confidence in our readiness if we live everyday with this mindset. Additionally, this may call to action changes to be made in our lives. When I first truly started to change my mentality I realized many of my everyday habits weren’t compatible with staying ready. This process can be hard to adjust too, but thankfully God understands that growing pains are part of this process. He knows we are not perfect and that it is a good thing we are not! We are able to lean on Him and depend on Him with every ounce of our beings when we realize we cannot do this alone. Lastly - He also granted us the generous and merciful gift of Reconciliation. There is no better way to ensure our readiness than regular and thorough confessions. This allows us to understand our weaknesses and allows us to make resolutions. It also brings us back into the state of grace, which is a requirement to be admitted into heaven.
We must understand that our lives on earth are minute in comparison to eternity. The temporal satisfaction and pleasure that we may receive today is nothing in comparison to the joy we will experience in heaven alongside Christ. For the question is not when the day will come and our name will be called, but will we be ready to answer?