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21st October 2021
I’m looking at a birthday card sent to me by one of my Sons with the two pictures of my life – one of a 17-year-old and one of today. The outrageous fact is that we are all on the great journey of life and time and it’s not just about losing our youthful looks. For most people today the ageing process is to be avoided at all costs. Many millions every year are spent on creams and potions to regain the elixir of youth and to hold back the aging process.
However, the aging process is not just one which displays itself to the world in our outer self but it is also an inner process not only of the mind but of the eternal soul. Every mark we have made is imprinted within the soul for the soul is our eternal black box, like a flight recorder holding everything, the good the bad and the ugly.
It is said God has an extreme sense of humour, for he made us, you and me, and God’s laughter is in his blessings on us at birth bubbling in youth and in all our stages of life including older age. Like a good wine we are maturing in preparation for the great heavenly banquet where Christ is our host as we are the guest. It is appropriate that the communion wafer is referred to as the host for it is Christ who feeds us now and who in the final movement to the heavenly places, it is Christ who will feed us there as head of the table. Saint Luke (6:21): “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” God’s laughter is the laughter contained in Isaac’s name, the laughter of his parents, Abraham and Sarah, which finds itself on the dividing line between perplexity and hope, the laughter of old people intersecting with the laughter of God. It is the “laugher of the wise” which St Clement of Alexandria deals with who says its a “measured”, “educated” laughter which is closer to a harmonious smile than to foolish and boisterous cheerfulness.
Therefore, we have a Vocation, for vocations are not just for the young starting out in marriage, a career, or religious life. There’s another kind of vocation — a kind of “late vocation” — God’s final call to a strong finish. It is God’s call to each one of us to grow old gracefully — full of grace — to grow toward Him. God calls us to respond heroically, like Saint Paul, pouring ourselves out like a libation until we can say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.
(II Tm 7). As our bodies grow older and frailer, our souls are to grow stronger and truer. That’s our final vocation — and it’s worth contemplating every day for the rest of our lives, for when all’s said and done, it’s that last call that really counts. I think it was one of the Marx Brothers who said that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have him for a member, but Jesus says the reverse, you are a member!
Prayer of St Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
Fr Ron Corne