Monday, August 8, 2011

The Ultimate Ending

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The Ultimate Ending http://www.sxc.hu/profile/rameckers

Have you ever envisioned your own funeral?  What do want people say about you once you’re gone?  Your spouse?  Your children?  Your co-workers?  Your friends?

The second habit of highly effective people is to “Begin with the End in Mind”. 

Stephen Covey introduces this habit with this very exercise.  “Imagine what you want people to say about you at your funeral.” 

When I did this exercise, I realized that I really want to be known for my hospitality.  In my heart of hearts I value relationships.  I noticed, however, a disconnect between what I claim to value and how I was actually living my life.

You see, I had developed a bad habit of saying to people, “Hey, we should get together sometime!” and then, not get together with them. 

It’s not that I didn’t want to get together with these folks, it’s just that I found myself being far too busy to actually live up to what I value in life.

Beginning with the end in mind, has helped me make positive changes in my life today.  I no longer make promises to get together with people, if I know it won’t really happen.  When I do make this promise, I follow up within the week.  In this regard, I am living my life with the end in mind.

In the first reading from the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6th), God gives Daniel a vision of the throne room of God, where ten thousand times ten thousand stood worshiping the Ancient One as He took His throne.

Visions of this sort generated hope in the children of Israel in their time of exile in Babylonia.  Visions like this reminded the children of Israel that in spite of the humiliation of having been captured and exiled, God is still God and ultimately His plan will prevail.   It steeled them to endure the hardships of exile by giving them a glimpse of a better future authored by the Ancient One.

In our Gospel (also from August 6th), God gives to Peter, James, John and indeed all of us a hint of the “Ultimate End” to which we are called.  These three disciples encounter Jesus, the Son of the Living God in all His heavenly Glory.

Like the exiled children of Israel, this vision of the future steels them to endure great hardships.  They must endure the cross and they must endure persecution.  To do this well, they had to have the “end in mind.” 

The Church gives us the opportunity to hear this gospel twice a year; once on August 6th and again on the Second Sunday of Lent.  Perhaps this has been strategically done, to help us keep our ultimate end in mind, and to give us the courage to keep on keeping on in our own struggles.  The pain and discouragements we face in this life pale in such a way to the glory of the next that words fail to describe it.

Perhaps there is another reason we are given this reading twice a year.  The philosopher James Allen once said, “The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, and this you will become.”  For us as Christians, Jesus the Ancient One is our Vision, the Ideal by which we build our lives and it is our hope that we will become like Him.

Jesus’ transfiguration is also ours.  In his first letter, John tells us, “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

In our own hardships, may we keep the “Ultimate End” to which we are called rooted firmly in our hearts and minds.  If we do, we will have the courage to face our trials and day by day we will become more and more like the One who calls us.  Amen.

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Patrick Clarke

Patrick Clarke is the Administrator of the Cathedral of the Holy Family.  He is married to Tanya.  Together, they have two children: Ava (7) and Lachlan (4) and they are expecting their third child in February, 2013