I’m guessing that most of us are familiar with the phrase, “the good life.”
Ironically, we often hear this phrase at a funeral. We might say that, all in all, the deceased had a pretty good life.
But what does a good life look like?
Is it having a large and happy family?
Does it involve having a nice career or home?
Do we mean living to be 90, or even 100 years old?
Does the good life involve having enough money to retire early?
One of Jesus’ many parables was about a man who thought that he had achieved the good life.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Let's think about what this means
What if you have a large and happy family.
What if you have a good career or built a successful business.
What if you have a beautiful house and a gorgeous cabin on the lake.
What if you have a good pension and the health to enjoy your retirement.
In the end, none of this will ultimately matter.
We can have all of these things, but in the end, lose what is most precious. "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"
This is the question that Jesus asked (see Mark 8:36). He's waiting for our answer.
This week I’ve been thinking once again about something that St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote: “We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me.”
To that I can only add: Amen!