To Live for the Lord

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Illustration by Frank Kacmarcik, OSB, Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN. Used with permission.

At the age of twenty-two, the difference between life and death was razor thin for me. I had suffered a serious accident, and the doctors outright told me that my recovery would be a long and devastating road. One day during my long hospital stay, I received a prognosis that left me in despair and feeling utterly alone. At that moment, I was struck by a calm and clear voice that told me, “Have courage and have faith.” It left me with a stirring peace and gave me a profound injection of strength and healing. From that moment on, I had a clear interior knowing that life at its fullest was meant to be lived with and for others.  

When we recognize God as the center of lives, we live in service to God’s greater purpose. A purpose that invites us to commit ourselves to a life of solidarity rather than selfishness, collective interdependence rather than fierce individualism, unconditional love rather than indifference. St. Paul understood this. And Jesus exemplifies the kind of life that emerges when we recognize that our life is not ours and ours alone. 

At this moment in time, death and loss are all around us, and the fragility of life is abundantly clear. In addition to COVID, there are the pandemics of greed, racism, violence, sexism, and corporate colonialism, which fuel the exploitation of people and our planet.  

As we continue to emerge from such great suffering, we must ask ourselves: How have we changed? Do we see our life as our own to live? Or as a life to be lived in service to God and others? 

© Liturgical Press.

Michael N. Okińczyc-Cruz

Michael N. Okińczyc-Cruz is the executive director and cofounder of the Coalition for Spiritual & Public Leadership (CSPL) and an adjunct assistant professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago.

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