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The Good Place

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians was written from prison, and he wasn’t sure if he would get out alive.

Paul is sure that he will have an existence with Christ whether he is alive or not. However, he has unfinished business on Earth.

He is talking about his mission to spread the good news of what happened in Jerusalem; Paul has people to save with his message of Christ Jesus, including his beloved Philippians.

I definitely don’t want to die yet, even though I also believe that life goes on with Christ. Like Paul, my work isn’t finished. However, in my case I’m concerned about my children. I strive to survive for them.

Does this mean I’m lacking in faith? Shouldn’t I trust in the Lord that my children will be fine if I died? That I’ll go the good place?

I often think that I won’t mind dying once my children are living independently. But will there be grandchildren? I picture myself as a nanna on a big Kiwi camping trip at Christmas, spoiling several little rascals rotten. I’ll probably want to hang around to write a book or two, or travel. There are plenty of days, even here in the Hutt, that feel like Heaven. 

Maybe it is the thought that we may not make it to Heaven that keeps us wanting to stay here? A possibility when I think how often I fail to be the Christian I want to be, that Jesus asks me to be in the Gospels.

A friend once described his mother’s final moments. She was a devout Catholic, a daily Mass attendee, and a stalwart of the local Vinnies. At the point of death, she opened her eyes and smiled. My friend was confident that she’d seen the angels coming to take her to Heaven. It’s a gorgeous image and one that consoled him greatly in his grief.

When my father died, I watched for the same smile. At the point of death, Dad looked towards his open bedroom door and his face twisted in absolute terror. He was a heavy drinker, profound womaniser, and rich. I loved him very much, but I don’t think he went to the same place as my friend’s mother. I try to shake off these awful thoughts by putting the horror on his face down to a moment of pain when his heart stopped, and nothing more.

I don’t know what happens when we die; none of us do. Yet, I really hope that I get to see my father again.

In two days’ time, I turn 51.  What I am very sure about is my gratitude that I’m still here when so many people I’ve known over the years didn’t make it this far. I’m resigned to the fact that this is the decade when I’m really going to start to age.  Bring on those wrinkles and grey hairs. I’m even ready for a few more inexplicable aches and pains. Ageing means I’m alive.

God willing. 

Today's Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9     Psalm 144     Philippians 1:20-24, 27       Matthew 20:1-16

Source: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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