- Catholic Review - https://catholicreview.org -

What’s in a life?

By the time this article appears, our friends, the cicadas, will have gone.

I grew fond of the cicadas. There were tons of them around the rectory. I even found myself praying for them one day as I walked: “May you fulfill the purpose for which you came.”

No one is quite sure just what that purpose is. They’re here for just a few weeks, and then they disappear. Then they wait 17 years to reappear. Their time seems so short, their purpose so obscure.

Then I thought of human existence. We often get 70 or 80 years of life. That seems like a lot of life. Yet, NASA estimates that the solar system was formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago. By comparison, our lives are very short as well. Perhaps the real question is not how long our life is, but what we do with the time we have.

Some of us remember an old commercial for Tareyton cigarettes from back in the 1950s. Those were the days when cigarette companies competed to create the longest cigarettes. But the Tarreyton commercial emphasized: “It’s not how long you make it. It’s how you make it long!”

Whether we get a few days like the cicadas, or a few decades like humans, the question is not about length of life, but quality of life. What do we do with the time we have?

Jesus summed it up pretty well when he said: “I have come that you might have life, and life to its fullest” (Jn 10:10). For Jesus, this did not mean acquiring everything we could, but giving everything we could.

As God, Jesus could have had everything. Instead he chose to give everything. He not only multiplied loaves and fishes, but he also multiplied healings and love. The purpose of life is not to make life longer, but to make ourselves and our world more loving. The cicadas follow some obscure law of nature. We are called to share the divine law of love. Love is the reason that God created the universe. Love is the only purpose for our lives in this universe. Just love. Then you will not only see the presence of God in others, but you will be the presence of God to others.

Also See

Copyright © 2021 Catholic Review Media