Long life or a good life?

Psychologist William Moulton Marston asked 3,000 persons, “What do you have to live for?” He was shocked to find that 94 per cent were simply enduring the present while they waited for the future; they only waited for something to happen; for children to grow-up and leave to build their homes; waited for the next year; waited for another time to take a long-dreamed-about trip; waited for someone to die; waited for tomorrow without realising that all that anyone has is today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes.

While reminding us of the eternity of the Word of God, St Peter writes, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. (I Peter 1:24-25). St James too reminds us “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14)

When doctors assess sometimes that someone would survive, the person dies in a wink and when death is predicted, the person lives longer. If death is almost certain, isn’t it worth making life meaningful for ourselves and for others?

Don’t measure life by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take away your breath. Some things which often take away our breath and stifle the joy of life are unforgiveness, hatred, revenge, jealousy, slander, hypocrisy and greed.

It is not the length of life, but the quality of our life that gives glory to The Creator God and which makes even dying a sweet return to God. Benjamin Franklin once remarked, “A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.”

A priest asked his congregation what they would do if they had just one more day to live. Some wrote that they would settle their families, others said they will plan their future businesses, some chose to write their last Will, while many young people wished to spend their last party with friends. Only a little girl wrote, “I will remain in Church thanking God for helping me live the good life He wanted me to.” How would you spend the last day of your life?

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