During the month of November, we walk pensively along silent aisles at tranquil cemeteries. We stop for a brief moment, when our attention is directed toward a grave marker of an old tomb covered by fallen leaves. On this damaged tooth that pierces the gravesite, we find an appropriate inscription: "Time is running out; eternity waits." Death is inherent in our lives, as it is the end of our journey on this earth.
With the first cry of an infant’s life, the clock hands mark his progress on the road to eternity. At that instant this new person receives his life’s calling – a call to holiness. Furthermore, he is given a free will, which can be used to shape his holiness.
He can, unfortunately, turn away from God, his creator and veer off into sin and iniquity. Often a distorted set of values ??places God last in our lives. We forget that if God is in the first place, then everything else is in the right place. Jesus warns very clearly: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand." (Mk 1:15; cf. Lk 4:21).
We all follow different paths to achieve holiness. Often, the route you take may lead to martyrdom. With this premise in mind, let us stop for a moment at the burial place of the martyr, Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko. Father Jerzy did not seek martyrdom. He was a young, energetic priest. Consequently, "the death of a martyr is to strengthen the spiritual wellbeing of others, while reinforcing the need to save lives as long as you can" – explains the Rev. Professor Naumowicz. Father Jerzy died for a specific individual – for Jesus Christ. He died in communion with Him. Martyrdom reconciles you to Christ, both in life and in death. You have to partake in constant prayer and surrender to many sacrifices to prepare for this moment.
The martyrdom of Father Jerzy was not predicated on his suffering only, but the underlying reason for which he was tortured and killed. He died for his faith. He always tried to overcome evil with good and opposed any form of violence. The last words of Father Jerzy delivered on October 19, 1984 in Bydgoszcz give testament to his consideration of the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary: The Crucifixion of Christ, "To conquer evil with good and to preserve human dignity, do not fight it with violence. The Holy Father in a prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa during martial law in Poland said that a nation cannot develop correctly when it is deprived of rights, which determine its full subjectivity, and the state cannot be a strong force rooted in violence. Whoever fails to win with their heart and mind, tries to overcome with violence. Every appearance of violence proves their moral weakness. "
What lesson is learned from the above? We must understand that no man knows when he will end his earthly journey. Often, he can’t even take advantage of the time he is given. He does not understand or does not want to understand that every moment in life counts at the end as he stands before God Almighty. In the heart of man sin can settle, then the heart hardens, and man becomes a perpetrator of evil deeds. After that it seems to him that it is no longer possible to avoid "eternal death," but it is not. In fact, one act of faith can liberate the sinner from the power of the body. The sinner to the Savior cries, "Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?"(Romans 7:24). So we read in the Dictionary of Biblical Theology: "With this the sinner concludes his journey: not content to accept life as a gift of God and finding it an absolute impossibility to get out of this tragic circumstance on his own. He turns to Him from whom grace comes. Thus, adopting a new attitude only proper for a creature of God, however, the dialogue, which transpires is now a dialogue between a sinner and his Savior. "
The Christian must constantly move forward and fight against what is wrong in him, he must regularly renew himself by having the image of the Risen Christ before him and in his heart because in every human heart lies the seed of immortality.
When we open our lives to goodness and the love for others, we move closer to eternal life. Every good deed – a gesture of kindness, a smile or a warm word – brings us one step closer to the desired goal. We cannot afford to allow for spiritual laziness, because it delays our efforts towards achieving salvation. Because no one knows how long he has on this earth, the question is whether there is sufficient time to straighten the path of his life.
As you progress closer to the glow of lighted funeral candles amid those who have departed, you become more and more aware that they have reached their desired objective of this earthly pilgrimage. If they were able, the deceased would share with us so much and therefore we would not be such doubting Thomases. Whenever you stand over a gravesite think about what has been disclosed here and resolve to follow the path that Jesus Christ has revealed and that Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko has taught in order to direct us toward the only secure way to eternity through praying the words of the Psalm 26:
Show me your ways, O LORD;
Teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
For you are God my savior,
And my hope is in you all day long
(Article appeared in the parish of St. Peter’s Basilica newspaper. Vincent de Paul in Bydgoszcz, conducted by the Mission and published with the consent of the author.)