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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Call no man happy

Sirach 11 25-28

The day of prosperity makes on forget adversity;
the day of adversity makes one forget prosperity.
For it is easy with the Lord on the day of death
to repay man according to his deeds.
A moment's affliction bring forgetfulness of past delights;
when a man dies, his life is revealed
Call no man happy before his death,
for by how he ends, a man is known.

How are you known in life? Would it be the same if you left for eternity today? What would you leave behind? What secrets? What habits, good or bad? Are you engaging in anything which would bring shame upon your name or smear your reputation?

Do you show one face to the world and a different face to your family? Do you behave in one manner at Church, and completely in another when in a secular location?

For myself, I find the above scripture to be so...accurate. For some reason, every time I opened the Bible the last couple of days, I found the above verses. I think God might be trying to tell me something.

I've noticed already that when my life is going well I spend less time with the Lord, but when tradegy befalls me, I fly to his feet and hit the dirt, praying before I even reach the humility of the ground. And he always picks me up and dusts me off, takes my burdens and fixes the situation...only to have me return in the face of another tragedy.

God created us; he knows our sinful and fanciful natures. He knows how fickle we can be, and yet he is forever faithful and is always there when we call upon his name. The Lord has promised us this and it is true. We don't always recognize his faithfulness; sometiems we are so caught up in our own narrow worlds, our own suffering, that we don't see his hand making arrangements around us. We don't recognize sometimes that he allowed events to befall us to chastize us for our own obstinance.

The Lord knows that every single time he heals us, we go out to wreck his patch job and once again, he has to get out the bandaids, kisses our wounds and wipes our tears.

What amazes me is that he never tires or grows impatient. The Lord sees when we are bleeding and rather than sitting back and saying, "That's just a scratch...let me show you MY wounds!", he simply and humbly calms our fears and takes care of the woundedness.

Yet how often do we thank him? I know for myself, I pray far more feverently when I am facing obstacles than I do when I recieve his blessings. I have become aware of this and I am working on this fault, yet somehow, my thanks and praise still falls short in intensity.

Also lately, on the more morbid end, I have considered what would happen if I died...not so much whether I'd be ready to meet the Lord, but about what people would think of my lack of organizational ability. My pack-rat-edness. The dust in the corners and furballs of shedded dog hair under the kitchen table legs. Would I even care, if I were dead?

Even more importantly...does God care? Aren't these virtues to be pursued, and yet, I'm falling so short of the mark.

I used to be a Police Officer, and I'll never forget the death scenes at which I was present. Or in my current position, the things I investigate. When people die, they leave behind a whole lot of worldy garbage, for lack of a better word. My first death scene reminded me of my father's death, for a few reasons. One of which was the vodka bottles in boxes, tipped over alongside the chair and all over the meager apartment in which the man lived. IN general, the apartment looked like an elderly man's home, with the reclining chair within which he had passed on, and the wodden mazazine cart next to the chair. The TV was still on, although I forget what was airing at the time. Some game show, I think.

So we wandered around his home and looked for contacts for next of kin. Do you know how his death was reported to us? The caretaker for the building. She'd seen the newspapers and the mail stack up and couldn't get an answer at his door. No one had seen him for days..but then again, no one ever saw him. So when she couldn't get a response at his door she called us to check his welfare, and sure enough, he had passed on.

Please pray a Divine Mercy chaplet for this man. I didn't know the prayer at the time, but I prayed just the same. He reminded me of my father wiht his bottles of vodka. He made me realize how fragile life is and how recently my own father had passed away. This man was my first death investigation and I had to go out on the balcony for awhile while waiting the Medical Examiner and focus on something other than death in order to control my emotions. I pray that my FTO didn't notice my interior struggle.

The second death investigation happened the same was a suicide. I remember, in going through the house and looking for clues as to what had happened that it was odd..and in my work in the mental health field I saw all the signs of suicide. It was my first week on the job and I told the officer I was with and the shift Sgt. about it...but they waved me off.

Sure enough, they later found his self-inflicted wound which he had very cleverly hidden to make us ask the very questions we went through. This man had a long history with the police in an adverse way, and in his very death he thumbed his nose at the police, playing his last prank. Even as he died, he would not let his animosity go.

I pray he is free of his pain, now, and in the arms of our Immaculate Mother. I hope the Mercy of Jesus has been able to heal his wounds.

I came to know these men not by their lives, but by their deaths, and what I realized is that I likely knew them better than those who were closest to them.

We hide our true selves, thinking that no one will love us with all our flaws and all our secrets. But the reality is that we have no secrets, and as it says in Sirach, 11; 27, "when a man dies, his life is revealed."

How will you be known? How do you live your life?

And after all of this, I say to you; do not worry about your death, but rather, live the life God gave you. Live because he is present within you, your soul is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you have no secrets. Live well, live in love and follow the commandments. Follow in the footstps of Jesus Christ and one day, when the Heavenly Father calls you home, you will be known forever that you died as you had the arms of the loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

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