‘Before, After and Eternity’
Seeing is believing! Indeed, nothing beats capturing the results of any given product than a demonstration of the stark difference between the “before” and “after” states.
This is a very common approach of beauty enhancing centers and the host of cosmetic products whose colossal billboards reveal how a client had dramatically improved in beauty, complexion and youthfulness after using their product.
I was reminded of this “before” and “after” marketing scheme after reading a very interesting reflection of Pope Francis on the different logic we have of time. He said:
“It is a sign of maturity to understand well the logic of the past. It is a sign of maturity to move in the logic of the present – in both that of yesterday and that of today . . . . It is also a sign of maturity to have prudence to see the logic of tomorrow, of the future.” (Homily, Mass in Santa Marta, 16-IX-2016)
He encourages us to engage life in its fullest cycle of yesterday, today and tomorrow: that is, learning to face life by moving harmoniously and humbly from what is learned from the past, then applying our experiences wisely and resolutely to the present and finally, preparing oneself prudently for the future.
The Pope, however, adds that there is still one more important logic that goes beyond the “before” “now” and “after”. This is the logic of our Christian faith that looks to the “day after tomorrow” or “the day of our resurrection”.
Forgetting this indispensable logic will make us live life unrealistically because we will refuse to accept it and not complete its true design; a cycle that God, not as some detached grand architect, has lovingly drawn for us to be displayed in Eternity.
Today, many forget this grand design of God. In fact, they resign themselves, better said they fool ourselves, thinking that this earthly existence is the only life worth living for.
Despite this, all men are aware –even faintly– of their fragile nature that will come to an end one day.
The Pope says that many possess a frail and false outlook of life. “It is easy for all of us to enter into the logic of the past, because it is concrete,” and it is also “easy to enter into the logic of the here-and-now, because we see it . . . . However, when we look to the future, then we think, it is better not to think, or at least, to not think it all the way through.” (Ibid.)
Unfortunately, there will never be billboards to show what someone was before and what he can or will be in eternity. We must, as the Holy Father suggests, find ways and means to constantly remind ourselves about this essential logic of faith and apply it. Neglecting this would restrict one to only try to forget yesterday’s woes, or indulge too much on today’s pleasures and worse, to worry with a myopic-materialistic vision about tomorrow.
In order to overcome this dreary earthly life-cycle, we must strive “to enter into the logic of the flesh of Christ, this is difficult. And this is the logic of the day after tomorrow. We will be resurrected as Christ is risen, with our flesh.” (Ibid.) We must, therefore, be ready and determined to take his whole life upon our life here and now, today.
It calls us to tweak our logic to what David Brooks describes as a moral one. “It’s a moral logic, not an economic one. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave. Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself” (Road to Character, Introduction).
Worldly men and women may find this logic illogical or disturbing. But there is no other way if we truly want to become the “beautiful people that God has intended us to become” when we resurrect with and in Christ.
Our resurrection, however, must begin now! We achieve this when we resolve to reject and abandon what the Pope calls a “spiritualistic piety”. This false piety doesn’t lead us to take Christ upon ourselves and makes us “afraid to accept and bear the ultimate consequences of the flesh of Christ.” (Ibid.) Only then can a true transformation take place in every person’s heart that will be one day revealed to us in Heaven.
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