The Preparedness Factor
We live in a time and a world that is particularly obsessed with the notion of security. Insurance companies thrive on this material obsession. Apparently, we can buy security against fire, car accidents, theft, illnesses and so on. But really, we cannot buy “security” in any real sense. Cancers and heart attacks, or epidemics do not discriminate or distinguish between the rich and the poor. In these times of terrorist tensions, a person goes shopping or commutes to work and meets death in the form of a hidden bomb or even an accidental collapse of a bridge.
Does this mean we are doomed to live in constant insecurity? The gospel response is it depends on our preparedness to meet the Bridegroom at a moment’s notice. We have to put our trust on our God, represented by the bridegroom. If we place our trust in insurance policies, medical or social security plans, we are bound to be disappointed. Sooner or later, an unpleasant surprise comes about, that is, the bridegroom suddenly arrives… If we place our trust in God, absolute security is possible. With God, even death acquires meaning. It does not take us by surprise as it did to the rich man of the parable, shattering all his beautiful plans. When one trusts in God, death becomes an essential part of one’s plans and projects. It even can become the supreme fulfillment of the faithful heart, whose greatest desire is to pass on to God, at last.
When we take into consideration the death factor, our planning radically changes. When God has room in our lives, our priorities are radicalized. In a way, God and His jurisdiction over our lives is the x factor that changes and revolutionizes the way we think or see things in this fleeting and changing world. People who have experienced or undergone a life-threatening ordeal or some fatal disease tend to live the remaining days of their lives in a radically different way, especially if they have found God or the meaning of their lives through these experiences.
In a very real way, the reality of death teaches us how to live, that is, meaningfully. Its inevitability cuts through our shallowness, complacency and our sense of competition, pride and prejudice. Death makes us discover our need for God and others. It gives our human relationships perspective. Death makes us realize that we are partners in dealing with our own mortality, rendering insignificant our conceits and imaginings. Death is a memorandum that we are not God, after all, but dust.
When death becomes part of our life’s equation, we realize that nothing is really ours, except the borrowed time we now spend. Death teaches us that life is indeed a stewardship; that the things we now enjoy in this world are given to us as gifts of God which we have to share with the rest of the world. Death inspires us to generous, to be self-giving. It inspires us to think about the legacy and the contribution we have to make for the betterment of our world and society. Death becomes our inspiration to seek the things that really last, things that outlive death and its power over us.