Matthew 25:13: Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
As married couples playing the back nine of life, it becomes easy to take each other for granted. She’s been here for thirty-some years, she’ll probably stay. We find ourselves living in what might be called a state of peaceful co-existence, sharing tasks, drama-free. Connected emotionally and physically in a global sense, but not always on a daily basis. This is risky business, when you live with someone you love, because, as St. Matthew warns us, you never know…
Think about how you and your spouse said goodbye to one another today, or yesterday. Would you want that exchange to be the last one the two of you ever had? One that you could sit and reflect upon for the next few decades. Those of you who may have lost someone close to you without getting a chance to say goodbye know what I mean. The rest of you need to pray you don’t find out, and take steps to avoid finding out sooner rather than later.
1 John 2:28: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
How you practice is how you play; this is what sports coaches have been telling kids for centuries. When it comes to marriage, to executing the finer points of marriage, we are called to engage in daily behaviors that will help us avoid years of regret, and which could possibly cost us a trip to salvation.
We must be prepared.
We must make an effort every day to tell our spouse he or she is loved and safe and appreciated. We must make it a daily habit to kiss our spouses at least twice. Like we mean it, none of these air kisses or little annoying pecks. Real kisses. As if you might never see one another again.
We must have a clean heart and a clear conscience, with the sacrament of reconciliation still within its use-by date. We need to take care of business when it comes to finances, in the event we are called unexpectedly. If your retirement plan falls apart if someone dies, it’s not a retirement plan. The idea is to let the surviving partner “stay in his or her world.” financially. If you don’t know how to do this, make an appointment with someone who does. Today.
1 Corinthians 15:52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
If you believe in the second coming, and if you didn’t you probably wouldn’t be reading this, you know it will arrive with no warning. There will be no do-overs. For me, one of the frightening aspects of all this is the fear of leaving things unsaid with Nancy and my family. I, we, must resolve to have those conversations, to write those letters, to leave nothing unsaid. Men, especially, need to pray about this, in that we generally don’t discuss our feelings as readily as do our wives.
The events of September 11, 2001 played a part in my conversion story. If you’re having trouble understanding this ‘ be prepared” stuff, just think about the sensations experienced by the husbands, wives, children and parents, and brothers and sisters of the men and women who lost their lives that day. Out of a clear, crystal blue sky. On a day like any other. With little or no warning. Think of the husbands and wives who failed to kiss each other goodbye that morning, or who went to bed mad the night before and he was gone before she awoke in the morning, and so on.
We must be prepared. To avoid a life of regret on earth, and an eternity of anguish.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
We know that what awaits us will be, assuming things work out, infinitely better than the short, generally brutish life most people experience during our time on earth. With the gift of free will, we can choose to ensure that things do, in fact, work out. By consciously and conscientiously practicing our faith. By consciously trying to remain as affectionate as possible with our spouse, in celebration of the fine old wine you’ve become. By giving to the poor and sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves. By counting our blessings. And by leaving nothing unsaid with the people we love.
Because you never know.