How to respond when reality falls short, as it always does – BC Catholic

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
First Reading: Ecc 1:2, 2:21-23
Second Reading: Col 3:1-5, 9-11
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:13-21

I restaurant I loved has been sold, and the food is not what it was. The owner of another favorite restaurant is close to death.

A few months ago, my sister died, the first of my siblings to go. In a few weeks I will be 80, and the things I used to do tire me more and more.

Life is changing.

As I realize how much time and energy I have given to the things of this world, I find myself in tune with the First Reading: what do we get from all our “toil and strain”?

St. Paul has the answer: “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” for “at the heart of the divine act of creation is the divine desire to make room for created persons in the communion of the uncreated Persons of the Blessed Trinity through adoptive participation in Christ.”

As my mother taught me, “God made me to know him, love him, and serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.”

Eventually – perhaps this very night – my soul will be “demanded” of me.

In heaven, I shall find my true identity as a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, for the Holy Spirit will give me “a white stone, upon which is inscribed a new name,” to be known only by me, representing God’s communication to me of what he sees me to be, the seal of my success.

I shall enjoy the maximum happiness possible to me, for I shall enjoy God as fully as I can, and, at the same time, at every moment, consummate that enjoyment by giving perfect expression to what I, and only I, see in the Holy Trinity.

Remember how the angels and the saints around God’s throne cry to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”

The Bible describes it with images, for “it has not so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.”

In heaven, “we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise,” St. Augustine says. “God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness.”

Will perfect happiness not grow boring?

No, says Pope Benedict. In our mortal life, every moment is too short, “because life itself seems to pass away with the moment before we can catch hold of it”; but it is also too long, “because the great number of moments, each always the same as the others, becomes too laborious for us.” If eternal life were merely an endless sequence of moments, then indeed we would suffer boredom and anxiety, oppressed by its endlessness.

However, it is not, he says. Eternal life is “another level of being,” in which existence is no longer “fragmented” into moments by time; “duration” disappears and “everything flows together into the ‘now’ of love.”

Is heaven really what we desire?

On earth, we try to seize happiness by planning the perfect holiday, wooing the perfect spouse, applying for the perfect job; but reality always falls short.

There are three ways we can respond. We can stifle the desire, abandon the hope, and settle for what we can get here and now; or we can try another holiday, another spouse, another job.

However, the Christian way is to nourish our hope, realizing that if nothing on earth can satisfy our longing, it is because we were made for something else.

the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the saints: “I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ”; “I want to see God and in order to see him, I must die”; “I am not dying: I am entering life.”

It is not “foot in the sky.” It is a promise.

Father Hawkswell has now finished teaching The Catholic Faith in Plain English. The whole course is available in written form and YouTube form at, and will remain available until the end of August. Father will teach the whole course again, with new insights, starting in September.

Click here to send a letter to the editor.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.