Recently I was accessing the attic in my house using a step ladder when the ladder suddenly collapsed and all 220 pounds of me went crashing to the concrete floor below. In a fraction of a second, I went from poking my head into the attic to a heap on the floor with serious scrapes on my leg and back. I thanked my lucky stars, because it could have been a lot worse.
It called to mind the fate of others who experience sudden shocking surprises in their lives who are not quite so fortunate. It could be something really horrible, such as a terrorist strike or an automobile accident. The recent terrorist strike in France is an example. Can you imagine sitting in a soccer stadium or in your favorite restaurant and being shaken up or possibly killed by a bomb blast? Another example is the recent automobile accident on an Interstate highway that killed the wife of a friend of mine. The couple, in their early twenties, had been married only two weeks.
The point is that we need to be vigilant and know that the possibility of death is always present. The Catholic Church teaches that this vigilance means that we must be in the state of grace at all times. If we are aware that we have committed a serious sin, then we must confess this sin and return to the state of grace as soon as possible. One Scripture verse that can apply here is Mark 13:32-34: “But of the day or the hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”
The story of the young man and his wife of two weeks is an inspiration. The young man, his name is Tony, was (and is) a member, with me, of the Serra Club of Lincoln. He is now a seminarian in the Diocese of Lincoln, receiving his priestly calling following the death of his wife. Can you imagine experiencing the bliss of married life for only two short weeks and then having it all suddenly collapse (like my ladder)? What tremendous gift Tony then experienced to receive the calling from God to the priesthood! Only God knows the fate of his wife, but if her faith is anything like Tony’s, her bliss is now the experience of seeing God face-to-face in heaven.
My prayer for today: Lord, please help me to always be vigilant and prepared here on this earth so that I may ultimately one day experience what you have prepared for those who love you. Amen.