I hope you’ll forgive a little self indulgence. Tomorrow (July 31) is the last official day of my employment as a campus chaplain. Then comes the first day of my retirement. I’m holding onto the 5,000+ theology and philosophy books I have accumulated over the years, and that was definitely one factor in my moving into a bigger house about 10 years ago, not a bigger barn, mind you, but a bigger house. The Church Pension Group and Social Security have taken good-enough care of me, or at least that’s how I’m calculating. I’m feeling pretty comfortable. So I am very tempted to say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”
And what does God say about that? Evidently, in light of today’s Gospel reading, God‘s response is, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you.”
Maybe that sounds harsh, but I don’t hear this as a threat of my imminent demise, though of course you never know what the next moment might bring. What I do hear, at least today, is the question summed up in a line lifted from a poem: “Ask me whether what I have done is my life.”
It’s an odd question. It’s not asking for tasks I have performed. It’s not asking whether I have made arrangements to keep myself comfortable for the coming years. It’s asking if I have managed to do my life, not my job, and that’s very different from what you can put on a résumé or a financial statement.
“Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” Or rather, ask yourself. You’ve been busy. Even procrastinators like me are busy with procrastinating—it takes a lot of work!. But have you been doing your life? Are you living your life right now? Do you catch yourself, in effect, waiting for your life to begin? Maybe you’re waiting for that ideal career, or that ideal person, or your own retirement.
The voice of God, the voice of Jesus, tells us to stop waiting. The only true life you and I are ever going to have has already begun. So, in a way, has your and my death. We have all already died, says our second lesson, and our lives are already hidden with Christ in God, the Christ who is all in all. And having died, we have also risen. The only true life you and I are ever going to have has already begun.
So what to do about that? I’m supposed to keep this really brief, so just two things: First, listen to the true life already living in you. There’s more going on with you right now than you may realize. Second, remember that the true life God is drawing you and me into is a life together, where we care for one another, where our very identities become uniquely themselves only because we are living in generous relationship with one another, not hoarding everything like the rich man in today’s Gospel lesson. Live this life God is beginning in you; live in generous relationship with others.
“Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” Ask yourself the same question. The answer is yes. Your true life has already begun. After all, why else were you drawn here? Amen.