Earlier this week, I was listening to a podcast from Father Mike Schmitz, and in his homily, he referenced a Mark Twain quote that I heard once, but had forgotten. The quote goes like this: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” As I thought about that quote a little bit, it became clear how insightful it is, for to know our purpose in life is a great gift, as it helps us set a direction and follow it.
But as a Christian, I would like to respectfully propose a different answer to the most important day question, and that would be the day of our Baptism. On that day, we are freed from Original Sin and made adopted sons and daughters of God, destined to share eternal life in Heaven. That new birth, while dependent on our natural birth, is far more significant for us because of the gifts of God’s grace and that promise of our inheritance with the saints in the Kingdom. If all of that is true (and the Lord promises that it is), then I might propose as the other most important day of our life is the day that we die. Our initial reaction is to maybe reject that proposal, but stay with me. The end of our life here on earth is not an end at all. As one of the prayers of the funeral liturgy of the Church proclaims so beautifully: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended.” The faithful are those who have received that new life in Baptism and who, at the time of their death, are in relationship with Christ in the state of grace. It is our sure and certain hope that those who die in this state will receive their inheritance of being welcomed to the eternal wedding banquet of Heaven. This makes death the doorway to that life for which we have been created, perfect union with God for eternity.
When we become aware of the gift of our Baptism, we become aware of why we were born. In that same podcast, Father Mike Schmitz pointed back to the Baltimore Catechism which asked the simple question: “Why did God make me?” Many of you don’t even need to read the answer, because you have it memorized: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, so that I can be forever happy with Him in Heaven.” Our Baptism gives us our why, and it points to our final goal of being happy with Him in Heaven.
As we begin this month of November, our Family of Faith topic is the Sacrament of Baptism. November is also a month when we recall the souls of the faithful departed, prompting us to pray for them, but also calling us to be aware of our end as well. And because of the gift of our Baptism, that day is not something to be feared, but to look forward to, for it means the fulfillment of the new life received in Baptism. As Christians, then, let us be convinced that the two most important days in our lives are the day of our Baptism and the day of the end of our earthly journey which will mark our entrance into Heaven.