“Be sure of this:
Jesus is talking about being ready for his return. Of course, the first level of that message is about his return at the end of time. However, he comes at other times, too.
A dear Jesuit friend of many of us here at Creighton died this week. There is nothing like the death of a loved one to put us face to face with the reality of our Lord's coming. In Jim's case, the end came sooner than we expected it to come. The good news is that Jim was ready and wonderfully prepared to meet his Lord, even on such short notice. It wasn't because he didn't love life or deeply love the people in his life. Everyone who knew him knew how passionately engaged he was with life and all the issues that made life rich and fulfilling. In the end, with God's grace, Jim proved to be remarkably free. He knew where he came from and where he was going. He knew the purpose of his life -- in living it and in laying it down at the end.
Jesus is asking us to live our lives with freedom - with the freedom that comes from knowing who we are. That freely lived identity is formed and tested in our everyday lives. It is formed by the defining relationships in our lives and by the choices we make, which shape us into the persons we become. This faithful freedom to be who we are called to be is tested by all the attractions of the world, which pull us in other directions. Usually it is greed or lust - something just looks so attractive that we feel drawn to want it or to at least try it. Sometimes it is fear - anxiety, and worries about the "what ifs," steal our ability to be courageous and steadfast. In all of these defining moments of our lives, Jesus is there coming to meet us with the offer of grace, with the gift of freedom, with the loving encounter that calls us to be our most loving and self-sacrificing selves. He simply asks us to be ready to meet him at the time he comes to us today.
Lord, open our hearts today and every day to receive your gifts of freedom and to encounter you in the many people you place in our lives, in the many choices which can bring us closer to you. Free us to love more freely to say "yes" more completely, to think of the needs of others first and to know what is the right choice. Liberate us from the seduction of power, the deadly grip of anger or judgment, and the debilitating trap of fear. Let us come to life each day as you prepare us for eternal life with you. And, on that day you come to bring us home, grant us the grace of loving family and friends to support us as we surrender to your love completely in our final Amen.
You can listen to Fr. Larry Gillick's homily at Fr. Jim Egan, S.J.'s funeral Mass at this link.
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