Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
November 28th, 2009

Tom Bannantine, S.J.

School of Nursing
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Saturday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Daniel 7:15-27
Daniel 3:82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87
Luke 21:34-36

Most of us do not like to think about death.  Thoughts about death can be very unpleasant.  And yet we are forced to confront death often when family members, relatives, and friends die.  And all of us know with utter certainty that we are going to die.  The problem is that we don't know when our death will occur.  Most of us would prefer to think that death will not come for many years.  But we have no guarantee of that.  The reality is that death can come at any time.  It can come suddenly and unexpectedly.  It can come slowly after a long illness.  It can come to the young and to the old.  This past week I have been confronted by the death of a 22 year old woman and an 85 year old man.  About the only thing they had in common was that their deaths occurred within days of each other.  I found it much more difficult to comprehend the death of the young woman.  At her age it seemed like her whole life was in front of her.  But death came to her, and now I believe that she has embarked on a much better life.   The death of the elderly man was easier to accept.  He had lived a long life, and left many good memories for his loved ones.  It is never really easy to accept the death of a loved one,  But the circumstances of each death are very important in our attempt to cope with the loss.

Today is the last day of the liturgical year.  At this time of the liturgical year the Church, through the daily Mass readings from scripture, focuses our attention on the last things and the end of our earthly life.  Today's gospel is no exception.  In this gospel Jesus gives us some very practical advice.  Since we don't know when our death will occur, he tells us to live so that we are always prepared to meet God.  He exhorts us to vigilance, so that death will not catch us unprepared.  Jesus wants us to live lives that are marked by fidelity to his teaching  and to the commandments.  He wants us to know that living our lives in this way is the best way to prepare for death and to avoid being surprised by it.  The reason why this message is repeated often during these days is that repetition helps us to really hear the advice of Jesus.  Hearing the words of Jesus is not the problem.  The problem is hearing the words in such a way that we want to immediately follow the advice of Jesus.  Many of us are procrastinators.  Even when we know what we should do, we often put off doing it.  We have many excuses.  We are too busy right now.  The time is not right.  In a few weeks or months I will have more time.  I'll do it then.  But how often do we find that the time never comes?  Something always seems to interfere with our plan.  Or we convince ourselves that since death is a long way off, there is no rush.  We procrastinate.

Today Jesus is telling us to listen to his advice.  He is asking us to really and truly confront the idea of our death.  He is asking us to pray for the strength to follow his advice.  He wants us to be prepared for our death whenever it comes.  If we listen carefully to the words of Jesus and do as he asks, we will be better able to confront the idea of our death.  And when our death approaches, we will be prepared to meet it peacefully.          
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