The Purpose of Life by Fr. Jeremiah
The Coronavirus is certainly laying bare many underlying realities of secular American culture. Many of the elites, the leaders within the economic, academic, and political institutions explicitly believe there is nothing else but what we have here. Many many more live as if that were true, barely paying lip service to anything transcendent. At times like this their underlying desperation is laid bare for all to see, an absolute panic at the thought of losing what one has here, an unspoken, crippling fear of death, of its FINALITY. Much of the panic that one sees all around and that one senses in the increasingly unhinged virus hysteria of the mass media is rooted in this fear of, this DENIAL of death. To me its humorous to watch them. They posit material and highly technical answers for virtually everything, especially illness. They foment a material, consumer culture that deadens us, tells us we can have more and more things and have them just our way, that even measures our worth, relative to each other, by how much of these things we have acquired. An answer for everything, a meaning for nothing.
And then the face of death? And then the question of ultimate, LASTING meaning? Like the grand Wizard of Oz, revealed and laid bare, modern life is without ultimate answers, is distinctly poor to dismal at addressing the three most important questions for any human and that no human can escape, even an atheist: Who are we? Where are we going? How do we get there. We are beings who die. We are going to oblivion. We get there by living in vain and dying, becoming nothing. These are the unspoken answers that they sense, all that they can see, as Faith is a gracious gift from God, that haunt them, that at times like these clearly terrify them. Despite all their material and technical wonders, modern secular humans have no ultimate lasting answers and live in an unspoken terror of death, of its ultimate meaninglessness, purposelessness, nothingness. It’s no wonder then this pandemic panic.
We Christians live within this neo pagan matrix. Jesus’s last words were that we go out and bring the Good News to everyone. The Good News is directly connected to the human condition and the problem of death. Who are we? We are made in God’s image and likeness, and are EVEN NOW living within His eternity. Where are we going? To the God Who made us like Himself for Himself. How do we get there? By loving Him with all our hearts and minds and souls and by loving our neighbors (including our enemies) as we should properly be loving ourselves. This is the very essence of the Good News. We have a lasting purpose, one beyond death, an eternal purpose, to get to eternal communion with God and others, to get to the life of the world to come. The ashes placed on our foreheads weeks back remind us we are not home, and thus to move through life, through the passion and death of Jesus, to the Resurrection. If you’re living for what’s solely here, you’ll be living in dread and for nothing, in deep fear and ultimate despair. The Christian lives joyfully on a pilgrimage toward the eternal life of the world to come. Lent means life, a journey from this nothingness, the ashes here, through the sufferings of life and through the Cross of self giving, upwards into eternal life with our loved ones, with the saints, with the angels, and into the beatific vision of the fullness of God. Saint Francis called Death his brother, a type of door to pass through, that leads you to God. Would that we would have such joyful Faith. Pray for that.