You Are Never Going Out of Existence
“He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.” Eccl. 3:11
From the fourth grade on, I have worn glasses or contact lenses. I am very near-sighted, which means that the farther things are away from me the less I can make them out unaided by corrective lenses.
The same is true for most of us and our spiritual sight. We are severely near-sighted. We tend to see only what is right in front of us. The reason for our spiritual near-sightedness is sin and its effects.
One of the downsides to this tendency is that we can often forget about eternity and can place too much hope in the things of this world. We can focus too much on wealth, prestige, and comfort. Jesus warned about this spiritual near-sightedness in the parable about the rich fool who was preoccupied with building larger barns to store his abundant grain and goods, rather than striving to be “rich toward God” (cf. Lk 12:13-21)
Because of this, it is important to recall that we are never going out of existence. I find that this is a truth that many people rarely ponder. Perhaps it is because we are immersed in a created world in which everything we observe and experience eventually passes away. There are apparent beginnings and endings to everything and everyone, Yet, one of the ways we are like God, and can say that we are “made in His image”, is that we (like Him) will exist for eternity. This is hard to grasp, and yet a joyful and liberating realization, especially when we understand that Christ’s redemptive sacrifice has made it possible for us to spend that eternity with God in a life that cannot be comprehended in its beauty and glory.
If we daily remember this truth, we will see everything in a new light, and we will get our sight back! We will be less likely to be blinded by comforts and material success, seeing them instead as gifts to build up the lives of others and serve God’s Kingdom during our brief time in this life; and our sufferings and tragedies will be understood in the same way, as part of the material that God in His love and Providence uses for some good–ours or others.
The great philosophers and theologians teach us that “eternity” is existence outside of time which again, is something hard to wrap our minds around. Time and space go together, and time is measure of change. In eternity, there will be no “future” as we think of it, but an eternal “now” in which God will be all in all. This is why the Church places so much importance on the “hour of our death” as in the final petition of the Hail Mary. Where we stand in relation to God at the moment we die, in love and communion with Him or not, will be fixed for eternity.
Like glasses or contact lenses assisting seeing, so we need help to overcome our spiritual near-sightedness. Faith is this “corrective lens” that enables us to see farther and truer. God has placed the eternal in our hearts, and it is there that we can find His indwelling presence if we will only be still and silent enough to recognize it. In personal prayer and at Mass in particular, we encounter eternity in God, for Whom we were made.
+ Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
Catholic Key, July 14, 2017 issue