Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

In Praise of Life

As I grow older, I’m valuing the gift of life more and more. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This echoes Psalm 90: “Our life is over like a sigh. Our span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong….Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.”

The Hubble telescope that NASA gave us an awesome view of the galaxy Andromeda, the one closest to us. It makes you dizzy. Each dot is a star, many bigger than our sun. And there are billions of them. Beyond Andromeda there are zillions of other galaxies. And here we are on tiny planet Earth, just a blue and green speck in the gigantic universe. But so far Earth is the only orb that holds life. It’s a miracle!

Reflect with me a few minutes about what your life means. From all eternity God planned to create you. Then at a certain time and place he loved you into being. A certain woman and a certain man met, came together and gave you a set of genes unlike any other person’s. You are unique. And you are marvelous. Your eyes blink about 28,00 times a day to keep them lubricated and clean. Right now your stomach is digesting a meal. Put your hand over your heart. It beats more than 100,000 times a day, sending oxygen to cells to keep you alive. And all these things go on without your thinking about them.  

Because you have life, you can thrill to music—all kinds, run with wind blowing through your hair, play basketball, dance, swim, eat pizza, play the guitar, and read others’ thoughts in books or on iPads. Because you have life, you can know the satisfaction of mastering algebra and Spanish (well maybe) and learning how to cook and to build a house. You can create things: a new recipe, a song, a computer program, or art. You can imagine, remember, solve problems, and make decisions.

Because you are alive, the whole world is your playground. You are free to explore it and gaze at wonders like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and star-studded night skies. You can be astonished by exquisite flowers and enjoy animals like your pet.

You also have spiritual life and the divine life we call grace. This makes you godlike. You are God’s child with a destiny of living forever.

Do you know what life’s greatest blessing is? Love—the whole spectrum of it. You can know the love of God and the love of parents, spouse, children, family, and friends. You can also experience the intoxicating joy of loving others.

Incredibly God gave us tremendous power over these wonderful lives of ours. We can live them fully. St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” This means using all of our talents and all of our days to the utmost. We can re-gift our lives by presenting them to God. As Saint Mother Teresa urged, “Make your lives something beautiful for God.”

On the other hand, we also have power to waste our lives, ruin them, even destroy them. Doing this is like laughing in our Creator’s face.

Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. He passed his baton to his followers, us. You are called to carry on the mission of Jesus, to bring others life, abundant life. You are called to see that people’s lives are not snuffed out before they leave the womb, that refugees have a safe place to live, that the homeless find food and shelter, that the imprisoned are humanely treated, that the elderly are respected and cared for, and that all people, no matter what their race, religion, or sex, are treated equally.

What does live spell backwards? Evil. When we do not promote life, our own and others’ lives, we promote evil. If we are not life bringers, we are death dealers. We spoil God’s creation that he made good. Promoting life is a form of loving. Isn’t that Jesus’s commandment? “Love one another as I have loved you.” Protecting and nurturing life, loving, is being holy, being like God, because God is love.

Here are three suggestions for living fully: 

•  Learn something new. Tap a hidden talent: take up crocheting, learn how to play the tuba, teach yourself Chinese.

•  Foster life in others in some way. Help in a soup kitchen, participate in a protest march, or just smile at someone.

•  Plug into the source of all life, God, through prayer. Increase your prayer time by at least five minutes a day. Let God speak to you through his word in Scripture, pray a set prayer like a decade of the rosary, or just rest in God’s presence.

Your life is in your hands. So what will you do with your one wild and precious life? The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the counselor dwelling within you, will help you make the right decisions.

Here is a modern song extolling life:

• What do you value most about your life?

• How have you enriched the lives of other people?

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