Way back in 1923, a high-level meeting was held in Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel. Nine of the most powerful people in the United States were there. They included the president of the nation’s largest steel company, the president of the nation’s largest gas company, and the president of the nation’s largest utility company. Twenty-five years later, where were these powerful tycoons? Three had died penniless, three had committed suicide, two were in prison and one had gone insane. The fates of these business people illustrate the point that Jesus makes in the gospel when he says, “What does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?” (Mk 8:36) As we rapidly approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year, this is a good question for us to ponder. These Sundays we are instructed to contemplate the end of the world and the end of our individual lives. And we know not when they will come. When they do, what will our lives have meant? What will they have produced? If we have accumulated many good things, but do not leave behind a world with more love in it, what shall we say to the Lord? If we have reached the pinnacle of our chosen profession, but in the wake of our success, leave behind dishonesty, broken lives and broken hearts, how will we explain that to Christ? Looked at from the end, what in our lives should we change now while we have the chance? These are good questions at any time, but especially at this time of year.
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