Can a Mask Save You?
We all have a natural desire to live forever - some instinct deep inside us tells us we were not born to die. That death is only around the corner is a hushed up secret, a dirty word, an unmentionable evil. Have you ever noticed how un-PC, how unacceptable it is to speak of death to someone who is obviously dying, or to remind someone of it when they are in the midst of life's pleasures? And yet death is one of the few unavoidable realities that all of humanity shares in common. Rich or poor, black or white, man or woman - one day, without fail, you will die. And then what? Oblivion? Emptiness? Nothing? No! Your instinct is right - you were born to live forever, and while this body dies, you, your soul, abides forever.
Death is but a gateway to two eternal options - an eternal life of joy, happiness, love and rest, or an eternal death of sorrow, rage, hatred and pain. And so death is the most important moment in our earthly existence, and we do not want to think about it? Are we not like ostriches with our heads in the sand? If we never thought to prepare ourselves for the rain, and every time it rained we were flooded out of our unroofed, unprepared homes, would we not fear, what is in reality a very small and natural thing, as much as we fear death? The problem is, we are unprepared. This life is short, its pleasures brief and unsatisfying. Eternity is exactly that - eternal and full to the brim. But what eternity are we preparing for? Death is a gateway to two eternal realities, and we choose now what our reality will be - "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life" (Deut. 30:19). Our destiny is to walk the path to eternal life, but we are left free to walk another path if we so desire. What path are we walking on? Where are we going?
We look around us and see a world going mad with COVID anxiety - and of course, a certain amount of sensible caution is necessary - but when the hour of death unavoidably comes, will masks, vaccines, medicines or money save us then? To use an over used phrase - only Jesus saves. When we come before the throne of God to be judged, what will we say of these days? Can we say that we put God first, that He was our security and our faith, our comfort and strength? Can we say that we have used this time wisely, that we have used it to pray more, to draw closer to God, to think of eternal things and to put our lives right? Or will we stand before God in confusion and shame because we made a god of our health, because instead of drawing closer to God and trusting in Him, we turned away and placed our faith and hope in men and man-made things? Are we among those who secretly, or not so secretly, rejoice at being able to get away with not going to Mass on Sunday, not because we are vulnerable, but because there is no 'obligation'? There is also no obligation to tell husband, wife or children of our love for them, but how would that impact our relationships? Is love and fidelity only words or also deeds and even in hardships? He who loves his life will lose it (Jn. 12: 25).
You can lock yourself in your home, social distance and wear a face mask, you can track and trace and accept whatever ethical or unethical vaccine that may be produced, but none of these will save you when death comes knocking. Of course, we must not be irresponsible, but let us look the fact in the face - one day our bodies will be in their graves, but where will our souls be? While we rush around stocking up on toilet roll and hand sanitiser, are we forgetting to prepare ourselves for that most important moment when we will die and come face to face with God?
What good does it do us to be a COVID statistics expert, to know which country is the most afflicted in the world, or the latest UK infection rate? Does it not only add to our fear and anxiety? Let us find out what we need to know and put the rest in perspective - Let us switch off the BBC and switch on to God. Let it be our resolution to use this time wisely to stockpile for eternal life, so that when the hour of death comes we may die in peace to the sound of those blessed words: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master" (Mt. 25: 23).