There are two facts on which just about every reasonable person can agree: we will all die and one day the world will end. Perhaps the latter is more debatable, but the world’s current scientific understanding, outside any belief in God, holds that the sun, as with all stars, will eventually die. Most of us don’t worry about that, though, because it certainly is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. But there’s the rub. Despite knowing the relatively short, and uncertain, duration of our lives, we too often live with little or no urgency or purpose.
Obviously, Jesus spent much of his time on earth urging anyone who would listen to prepare for the coming of the Lord (Matt 24:42-43, Matt 25:1-13, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 12:35-38, Luke 21:36). But, something about that can seem intangible at times. Jesus lived so long ago from our minute, earthly perspectives, that we have a hard time feeling His sense of urgency. Yet, that urgency is as true today as it was when Jesus walked on this earth.
I began reading a new book entitled, “The Boy Who Met Jesus” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. The content of which deals with a poor Rwandan boy who met and conversed with Jesus … in 1982. Now, this is hard for anyone to believe, and it is still under review by the Catholic Church (although the Church has approved the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Kibeho, which was at least loosely affiliated with its current investigation into the boy who saw Jesus). By no means do I say to blindly take this as fact, but I did find reading Jesus’s words as relayed by this boy to somehow be renewed, closer, and more tangible, if indeed they are Jesus’s words. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the book of what this Rwandan boy says he heard from Jesus:
“Jesus says that we must prepare our hearts for the end of days. We will all die one day – we must not live our lives as though we are unaware that our time on this Earth will come to an end. The world itself will end, and that day is fast approaching. We must ask to be forgiven for our trespasses and find it in our hearts to forgive those who have trespassed against us. We must purify our hearts with God’s love and cleanse our spirits by living a life filled with love and charity. We must prepare our souls for Judgment Day. Christ’s return is near, and the gates of heaven will open to us only if the Lord judges us to be worthy of entering his kingdom.”
To me, the urgency of this boy’s message jumps off the page. This should come as no surprise, because the urgency of Jesus’s message also jumps off the page in the Gospel. We are meant to live lives of love and charity. We are meant to be active in love, not passive. We are meant to dedicate our lives to each other, not ourselves. We are meant to repent for our mistakes and be quick and sincere to forgive anyone who sins against us, no matter how severe. Each day we fail to do so is one less day we have to prepare. Let’s live our days with the urgency to prepare our hearts and souls for the Lord’s coming so that we will be like the prudent virgins who had enough oil in their lampstands to carry them to the bridegroom’s arrival. (Matt. 25:1-13)