August 28, 2015

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Life is about being ready for big changes

Sean GallagherAs I write this column, morning light has just won another victory over the darkness of night. It’s about 7:15 a.m. No one else in my family is awake except my almost 2-year-old son Colin, who’s not gotten into too much trouble yet. Give him time.

Yet outside the house, I see lots of traffic on the usually quiet streets by my family’s home in Indianapolis. Many parents are driving their children to a grade school a few blocks to the west. And other parents and some teenagers themselves are driving to a high school a few blocks to the north.

The academic year at these two schools has begun, just as schools across central and southern Indiana began classes earlier this month or in late July.

And they will begin in a few days at the school where my four older sons are enrolled. So the blessed repose that my boys are enjoying at present, to paraphrase St. Paul, will soon be over in the twinkling of an eye. And I just might need the last trumpet to get them out of bed in time.

We who live in the adult world may think that such rapid changes in our daily lives are a thing of the past. Now we work day in and day out to earn a living. No more summer vacations for us.

We make a mistake though, if we live with such presumption. Changes can happen for us just as quickly as they do for our children. In many cases, however, to paraphrase our Lord, we adults know neither the day nor the hour when these changes will occur.

Unlike children who can look with dread at a calendar and know that the first day of school is approaching, we adults might have a job one day and lose it the next. A friend or loved one might die unexpectedly. We might be struck with a debilitating illness with no advance warning.

Other rapid changes for us adults can be more positive. For us husbands and fathers, we might be given the joyful news by our wives that we are expecting the birth of a child. A promotion or a new and better job might come along when we least expect it. A day may come when a family whom we’ve never met moves in next door and we end up building good friendships with them.

In any case, all of us are faced each day—whether we consciously acknowledge it or not—with the reality that this day could very well be our last in this life. However, this irrefutable fact need not, indeed should not, darken our days.

With faith in Christ, the knowledge that one day we will die and that this day may be today should help us appreciate more intensely the blessings we have here and now, and remind us that they are but a shadow compared with the infinite happiness that awaits us in heaven.

It should also motivate us to give as good an example as we can of Christian discipleship to our family, friends and everyone we meet so that they, too, might embrace the life of grace that Christ offers to everyone.

In a few days when our four older boys go off to their first day of school, I suspect that they’ll wake up early and be ready when it’s time to go. Jesus calls all of us who follow him to be ready each day to make the biggest trip of our lives—to the school of unending love in heaven. †

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