October 25, 2011 - Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

“Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” I have no trouble believing that the little ways I have suffered in my life will be forgotten in the face of the glory of heaven. My sufferings are largely forgotten in the face of a bowl of ice cream. Honestly, like all people, I live on the razor’s edge: everything could go wrong tomorrow, but for now, in this moment, I live a very pleasant life.

But then I consider these words being read in the lives of other people in this world and other times. I consider how these words sound to a child growing up in Somalia right now. I consider how these words sounded when read in Auschwitz. I consider how these words sounded in a medieval town where nearly everyone had died of the Black Plague. How can those sufferings be nothing compared to the glory that is to come?

For the sufferings of the present life to be nothing, the successes also must be nothing, this whole life must be nothing when compared to the life to come. It is like a video game where the character suffers and dies, and that is nothing, because winning is also nothing, because a video game is nothing compared to real life. It is like a 6th grader who breaks up with her boyfriend and cries and screams and experiences real suffering, and that is nothing, because the relationship really was nothing compared to what was coming in her life.

Truly, the girl experiences real suffering. It is not something to be laughed off. Truly, the person who lost the video game might be really upset. The authenticity of the emotions and the experience is not the question. It is a question of perspective: video games do not matter; dating in middle school does not matter. For St. Paul’s statement to be true, the glory to come has to be such that the life we are living now does not matter, in perspective.

I cannot see this glory now. I can only grasp it with hope. Hope tells me that this life, with its sufferings and successes, is really nothing, an illusion, like a video game or middle school. This life only matters because how I live determines whether I ever see that glory.

There is an ad campaign now about bullying, by adults, telling middle school and high school students that “it gets better”, which is true and false. Can you imagine if the Saints in heaven ran an ad campaign telling us, “it gets better”? It is, kind of, what Jesus did.