We ought never to forget, beloved, that we have renounced the world. We are living here now as aliens and only for a time. When the day of our homecoming puts an end to our exile, frees us from the bonds of the world, and restores us to paradise and to a kingdom, we should welcome it.
Thus said S. Cyprian in this morning’s second reading of the Office of Readings : and it does seem to me to be quite valuable to recollect at this time of year (as it comes to an end) that, however easy it may be for us to forget that our primary purpose is to prepare for our ultimate Heavenly life, that is nevertheless our ultimate aim, and that we should therefore try to focus at least as much of our lives as possible on that important purpose.
Indeed, the Saint points out that :
What man, stationed in a foreign land, would not want to return to his own country as soon as possible?
For those of us who have even the slightest commitment to God, this should be true : and if it is, then we need to remind ourselves often that, however pleasant earthly life is, and however much of God’s will and purpose we are achieving during it, it is still only a temporary activity; and that His ultimate will for us is to recognize, and achieve, that His purpose for all of us is to ‘return to our own country’ in Heaven, where we can – and shall – spend eternity praising and rejoicing in Him.
I think there is a need for us all to recollect, even if only very quietly in the depths of our prayers, that this is the case : and it certainly seems to be this that S. Cyprian was focussing on in the last paragraph of that passage :
My dear brothers, let all our longing be to join them as soon as we may. May God see our desire, may Christ see this resolve that springs from faith, for he will give the rewards of his love more abundantly to those who have longed for him more fervently.
Let us, in these last days of this year, and as we prepare for the Church’s new year which starts tomorrow night, remind ourselves of this; and by reminding ourselves constantly of it come to increase, this year and every year, of His love and generous will until we eventually come to share it with Him for ever in Heaven.