1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
"I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living. "(Ps. 56:14)
The apostle Paul certainly was on a search for truth in his letter to the Corinthians that will explain what happens after we die. Paul doesn’t have all the answers. Jesus makes us face up in the gospel to the fact that growth in each of our lives is going to be challenged on a daily basis. All of us eventually come to grips with the whole purpose of life as we face the reality of death. Unfortunately some of us wait too long to face the reality of death by putting all our attention on the present life. We are bombarded by the advertisement industry to consider clothes, food, cars, vacation spots, front row seats, a pocket or handbag filled with money, etc., etc., etc. Truly, we all need clothes, food and time off, along with some money to take care of personal and family needs. But we can find our focus narrowing down. We don’t want to look at the whole picture and highlight what really matters. Do you recall the saying, " Do you eat to live, or live to eat?!" A nice reminder as to "why do I do what I do?" What grabs my attention, what do I really want in life? Does sickness or handicaps separate me from the living? Who is really a friend of mine?
Take a look at the responsorial psalm for today. "I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the living." Give me a good, close friend, someone who truly waits for an answer to, "How are you doing?" What a gift! Some wouldn’t want to know. Some really wouldn’t want to get involved. They were being polite with their question. I think that we are all aware of this and are not offended. On the other hand, the Psalmist is reminding us that we do have a Friend in God who definitely wants to know how things are going and walks with us throughout our day. Isn’t it also interesting that the Psalmist puts us "in the light of the living." A true friend isn’t trying to dim the light that reveals who we are at any giving time. What comes through loud and clear is that a true friend offers us their love first and foremost. Being recognized as a person is so important. Knowing that we are loved is likewise important. Our answer to their question might reveal that things are going along okay especially in certain areas of our life. But we don’t stop there. Sometimes we also add that we are facing some real challenges or hurts. These can be coming from God, from our loved ones, co-workers, strangers who know us, or from our very selves as we face personal challenges to continue to grow and not just vegetate. And that is what is involved in living life in the present light: dealing with the whole truth.
Are you and I continuing to walk in the presence of the Lord, of our friends, and of being true to who we are as a unique person? Are we truthfully facing persons, situations, lack of things, or challenges that can be a bit scary? Are we so focused on the negative that we are truthfully missing the many good things we actually have? Have we bought into the advertising industry that has sidetracked us into thinking that what we possess by way of material things is going to make us happy?
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.