heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and
the cares of this life, and that day come upon you
suddenly. For as a snare shall it come upon all
that sit upon the face of the whole earth..”
night, as I sat immersed in writing, out of nowhere
a tremendously brilliant flash filled the room accompanied
instantly by an ear-shattering clap of thunder. There was
no lapse between the lightning and the thunder. They came
together with utter instanteneity. It appeared that a bomb
had exploded against my house. I was startled, unable to
comprehend what had occurred, except that it was breathtakingly
instant, totally unexpected, completely unanticipated. I
had once been told that in thunder we hear something of
the judgment of God. It is primordial, instinctual. It is
foreboding, fraught with the imminent approach of danger,
impending destruction, a distant, muttered anger boding
the approach of something inimical to life. Even an atheist,
I am convinced, hears something of his sins, and something
of judgment, in that portentous rumble that causes the earth
to tremble under his feet. It evokes images that all our
intellectualizing, all our pretenses, cannot shake.
night, 153 people from the Greater Boston area died
For many of
them, death came like that clap of thunder. Immersed in
many things, and thoughtless of any storm, before they knew
what had happened, they had died. They did not get to shut
down their computers, turn off their televisions, or put
their book neatly on the table beside them. It struck instantly,
like a storm ... or a thief ... in the night.
No time for that “Act of Contrition” — indefinitely postponed
until it could not be uttered. No time to say:
“I love you.”
“I am sorry.”
In the blink
of an eye it all falls away. No time. Not even for words.
And no bargaining ... no postponing ...
It will come
and find you busy
It will be stunning — for it will have found you utterly
unprepared. A millisecond stands between you and death.
Hardly time for the realization, let alone preparation.
It will have come.
Mors stupebit. Death has
struck. It came ... and found you busy ...
That Confession you were going to make
“someday”; that amending
of your life that you “soon” would undertake; the sins that
you had resolved to renounce “beginning tomorrow”; the pardon
you would seek from someone you had harmed — in a thundering
instant, your pretensions are removed ... and you are stunned,
staggered. You were sure, certain of the
next minute, the next hour, the next day.
So were many — perhaps most
of the 153 people who died last night.
Think about it. Like the 153 people who, as of last night,
are no more among us, chances are that you will wager against
God and still think that you can bargain with death. It
will come to another 153 tomorrow, and, like the 153 before
them, it will find that it won the wager.
It always does.
But you think that you can beat the odds.
You are a fool.
There are no odds. There are certainties. Many. And
some you will wish you had come to terms with long before
that clap of thunder.
One of them
And one of
them is either being with Him in Heaven or being
forever apart from Him in Hell. And for you, one
of them is certain, too. Ultimately you will
There is a
time to sow ... there is also a time to reap ...
Think about it — while you
Or do you ...?
what are your plans for tomorrow?
Boston Catholic Journal
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