I have seen my fair share of death in the 15 years of having been a police officer. Sometimes the death is expected like the incidents where the grandmother has passed away at home with her family at her bed side Sometimes the person may have lived a high risk life style where they are involved in drugs and gangs and the family members are saddened but not too surprised at the news. More often than not though, if I am there, the death is unexpected and a shock to the family. Sometimes it is because of an accident or sadly sometimes, people just don't wake up.
In this weekends gospel reading, Jesus tells us the story of ten virgins who go out to wait for the bridegroom. Some of them do not take enough oil for their lamps so by the time the bridegroom gets there they don't have any light. They are forced to go to the merchant and they miss the bridegroom. When they go to the wedding feast they are told they cannot come in and that the bridegroom does not know them. Jesus finishes off by saying, "stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
This is commonly meant that we do not know the time of Jesus' return to earth but, seeing death come so quickly and unexpectedly as I have, I see it as we do not know of the time or the hour that our own deaths will come so always be prepared for our deaths.
This is most important in the spiritual sense. We should not be afraid because Jesus has conquered death. As long as we cooperate with the graces that God has given to us then death can be a victory over sin. If we live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God then we are assured of spending eternity with Him. If we live a life of sin then we are probably not got going to like the outcome. Fortunately, God is always trying to reconcile Himself to us. He gives us plenty of opportunities for us get fix our relationship with Him---most specifically, confession.
I think there is another idea that can be taken away from this reading. Since we do not know the day or the hour of our death--love like we never know when we are going to die. Don't go to bed angry. Tell our wives and our kids that we love them before we leave home. Hug those we love. Don't be afraid to express our affections. We don't know if that is going to be our last hug or our last kiss. We don't want our loved ones last memory of us to be of a fight.
I've seen too many people live like they are never going to die. I've been on scene where the person had some terminal illness but yet had no funeral arrangements leaving their loved ones to make them in a time of grief. Don't fear death. Don't live being worried that something bad is going to happen. But, live the life that is pleasing to God and make sure our friends and family know we love them. Oh yeah---and make sure that there is plenty of beer at the funeral wake.
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