Monday, March 29, 2010

Lenten Reflection on Life

by Fr. A. R. Arboleda, SSP

Life is, indeed, so short. And, oddly enough, it is much shorter for those who find their lives meaningful, while it is too long for those who find their lives meaningless.

Couldn’t it be that life is what meaning we put into it?

Now and then, I also ask what meaning has my life really. Often, I feel like I know, but at other times, my thinking looks like a useless mental exercise. Life is just so vast, so full of mysteries that before I can put meaning to my life, part of it is gone and the meaning I try putting on it is already partly exhausted.

Life, so it seems, is like dry sand slipping through my fingers. When I try to hold on to it very tightly, as if squeezing it, it slips away faster. But when I try to cast it away, it sticks to my hands. Sometimes, I think, to appreciate life best, one has neither to hold on to it tightly not to let it go so carelessly. The sand in the hourglass is life. It is better to let it flow freely, although not carelessly.

How we take life is often dictated by what priorities we have. And life, being so vast, offers everything which can be a priority to us. A student ever so eager to get out of poverty would say, “Life will be meaningless if I don’t finish my studies.” A woman terribly in love would say, “Should I lose him now, life will be meaningless to me.” And an alcoholic, trembling with the urge to drink, would be ready to give anything he has, even his dignity, for a bottle of liquor. Then, there, is this young ambitious businessman who desperately wants to make his first million before reaching forty. He easily forgets he has a wife, children and friends. Only the first million seems to matter.

But now, what are the things that last which could have real meaning in one’s life? St. Paul has spoken so eloquently about them:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; than I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:1-3, 8-13).

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