Life ever seems pathetic

Sermon 9 - Greatness and Limitations of Human Life

“The years of my wandering are one hundred and thirty, the years of my life were few in number and full of sorrow. They do not reach the years of my fathers' lives in the time of their pilgrimage. ”(Gen 47, 9)

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Why did the aged patriarch describe his years of life as few in number, since when he said this he had already lived twice as long as people today? Why does he say of those years that they were full of sorrow when he saw that all in all he had lived in wealth and prestige and, what is more, in the favor of God? Even so, he described his time as short, his years as painful, and his life as a mere pilgrimage. While we admit that his suffering was so great that as a result he rightly disregarded his life, despite the blessings that accompanied it, the term "short" is at first sight surprising when you consider that he was responsible for the highest goals of his existence had so much more time than we did. Indeed, he alludes to the longer life his fathers enjoyed, and he may have felt the frailty more than they, but this difference between him and them is hardly likely The real reason for his complaint in the preceding scripture was his or more than just an affirmation or an occasion for it. The fact that he lamented his lot in such sad terms was not because Abraham lived one hundred and seventy-five years and Isaac one hundred and eighty years, and he, his life wasn't over yet, only one hundred and thirty, because it doesn't matter how long a time has passed after it is over, and that is undoubtedly the w Their reason the patriarch spoke this way, not because his life was shorter than that of his fathers, but because it was almost over. When life is over, it does not matter whether it lasted two hundred years or only fifty. And it is precisely this characteristic that is impressed on human life on the day of its birth, namely that it is transitory, that makes it equally weak and contemptible in every situation and in every form. All points in which people differ - health and strength, high or low status in society, happiness or misery - vanish in the face of this common lot, mortality. The years go by and with them also the richest in years of life; what has passed is no longer of any use to him, except in its effects.

And this feeling of the nothingness of life, which is impressed on us simply by the fact that life is finite, deepens considerably when we contrast it with our abilities as living beings. Had Jacob lived as old as Methuselah, he would have called his life short. We all have the feeling, even if it seems contradictory at first, that although the days seem to pass slowly and are laden with many events or with worry or monotony that drag them on and make them bleak, the year is in contrast to The slow flowing hours pass quickly and the past time seems like a dream to us, even if we thought it would never pass, but would nevertheless run away. The reason for this seems to lie in the following: when we look at human life in itself, even in the smallest detail, we see in it the presence of a soul, the energy of a spiritual existence, of a responsible being; consciousness announces this to us at every moment. But if we look back on it in our memories, then we only see it from the outside, as a mere span of elapsed time, as a purely earthly course of events. And the longest duration of this outer world is like dust and weighs nothing compared to the life of a single moment in the inner world. We always expect great things from life because our inner consciousness tells us every moment that we have a soul, and we are always disappointed when we think about what we have gained from the past and what we can hope for in the future. Life always raises expectations and never fulfills them; and so, however long our lives may be, our years are few in number and full of suffering. I would now like to elaborate on this particular way of looking at the topic.

Our earthly life makes us promises that it does not keep. It promises immortality, but it is ephemeral; it holds life in death and eternity in time; it attracts us through beginnings which only faith can bring to an end. I mean, if we consider the powers with which our souls as Christians are endowed, then even their awareness fills us with a certainty that they must outlast this life; In relation to good and holy people, who from their present state know these powers well, this is indeed a pledge of immortality. The greatness of their gifts, compared to the limited time they have to make use of them, urges the mind to think of another life as the almost necessary counterpart and consequence of the present life and as certainly inherent in it, provided that there is a just ruler of the world who has not created man in vain.

This is a thought that doesn't always come to mind, but occasionally it does. And perhaps many of those who hear it for the first time and believe that they have never felt it will recognize this in the course of my presentation.

I mean, when we watch an excellent person whose virtues we know - his kindness, warmth, tenderness and generosity - die (no matter how long he lived; I am not thinking of an early death; may he end his days are allowed to live), then with a certain alienation the thought imposes itself on us: “No, he must not die yet; he has not yet had an opportunity to properly use the excellent talents God has endowed him with. ”He may have lived seventy or eighty years, and yet it seems that he has done nothing and has barely begun his life. Perhaps he has always lived in seclusion, preoccupied with a series of insignificant things that did not survive the day or produce visible fruit. He could just make out what was in him under the circumstances, but not put it into practice properly We may feel that he was generosity, warmth of heart and charity in person, and if he had had the means he would have spread charities on all sides, but he was never rich - and died poor. We have each other accustomed to saying, "What would one be like him, would he be wealthy!", not because we imagined that he would ever get rich, but out of recruitment finding out how this would suit him; if he then actually dies as he lived, without wealth, we are somehow disappointed - something did not go right -, his mind, we think, has never reached the limits of its possibilities, - he has a treasure within himself, which he has never benefited from. His years were few in number and full of suffering, and, compared to his ability, have fallen ill at the wrong time to old age; and under this impression we are urged to look to a future state as a time when these faculties are brought to light and come into effect. With such considerations I do not mean to try to prove that there is a future state; we want to accept this as proven. I mean, beyond our firm belief in this great truth, because of that imperfection of the present, we feel really driven to a belief, we come to a kind of tangible conviction of that future life, a certainty that hits the heart and permeates it. The sheer size of our abilities makes this life look pathetic; the mere wretchedness of this life compels our thoughts to another; and the prospect of another lends dignity and value to this life that promises us that; and so this life is at the same time great and scanty, and we rightly despise it and still appreciate it beyond measure.

And if this life, even the longest, is short as a result of the great disparity between him and the abilities of the born again, then of course even more where the thread of life is cut off by an early death. There are people who develop a superhuman grandeur and grandeur of spirit in a single moment of their life, and they would need entire generations to spend it on the right things and, so to speak, to exhaust it - people who, in such fleeting moments, which are like the rays of the sun and the twitching of lightning, give us a sign of their immortality, a sign that they are angels in disguise, the elect of God, sealed for eternal life and destined to judge the world and to be at all times with Christ to rule. But suddenly they are taken away, as soon as we get to know them, we lose them. Can't we believe that they have been taken away elsewhere for higher things? Sometimes this is said of our spiritual powers, but it is even more true of our moral faculties. In moral truth and virtue, in faith, in steadfastness, in piety, in meekness, in courage, in humanity there is something that earthly conditions simply cannot match, for which even the longest life is not sufficient, on the other hand, even the greatest possibilities in this world become a disappointment that has to break the dungeon of this world in order to create adequate space for itself. So we see ourselves, when a good person dies, induced to say: “He has hardly appeared - there was nothing on which he could prove himself; his days have passed like shadows, and he withered like grass. "

I believe "disappointment" is the only word that properly expresses our feelings at the death of the saints of God. When our faith is not alive enough to penetrate beyond the grave and see what is to come, we feel downcast Because it seems that great things have failed. But it is precisely from this feeling that we can in fact - through a kind of contradiction - draw hope rightly; however disappointing or incomplete this life may be, this is certainly not all. The feeling of disappointment often overcomes us in a special way when we happen to learn or witness the death of holy people.The hour of death seems to be a time which, according to the will of Providence, much could be made of, if I may use the word; Much could be done for the glory of God, for the good of men, and the revelation of the dying, and friends may rejoice in advance and expect n that great things will then happen that they will never forget. Yet "the wise dies just like the fool!" (Koh 2:16). This is the experience of the preacher in the Old Testament and our own confirms it. Josiah, the zealous servant of the living God, died the same death as the wicked Ahab , the worshiper of Baal. True Christians die like other people: one in a sudden accident, the other in a war, yet another without friends to accompany his death, and a fourth is unconscious or otherwise not with himself the opportunity seems to have been wasted, and we are strongly reminded that "the revelation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19) takes place only afterwards; that the "longing waiting of creation" (ibid.) is just waiting for it; that this life is not up to the burden of such a great task as the due revelation of those hidden ones who will one day "shine like the sun in their kingdom Father "(Mt 13, 43).

But furthermore (if one is allowed to speculate) one can imagine that the same kind of sensation, and also a most exhilarating one, comes over the soul of the believing Christian when it has just detached itself from the body and becomes aware that its trial is over once and for all. If his life has been a long and painful trial, when it is over we may assume that at the same moment he feels the same kind of amazement at its end that generally follows every effort in this life when the goal is reached and the time of waiting is over. When we prepare intensely mentally for a point in time, for some big event, a conversation with strangers, the sight of something wonderful, the occurrence of an extraordinary problem, then, when the time has come and gone, a strange reversal of feelings comes upon us the changed circumstances. So, but without any admixture of pain, without any weariness, boredom or disappointment, the happy contemplation of the disembodied spirit may then be - as if he were saying to himself: “So now everything is over; this is what I've been waiting for so long; what I struggled for; what I have prepared for, what I have fasted, prayed for, and done works of righteousness. Death has come and gone - it's over. Oh, is that possible? What an easy trial, what a low price for eternal glory! A few bad illnesses, at times severe pain, a few bad years, some inner struggles, for a time bleak loneliness, arguments and fears, painful losses, contempt and abuse on the part of the world - how have they offended me, how much have I thought of them, and how small are they really! How despicable is human life - despicable in itself, but of inestimable value in its effects! - because for me it was like a small, easy-to-acquire seed that sprouts and matures to immortal bliss. "

Given the uselessness of life itself, it becomes clear how we should view life while we are on the way in it. We should remember that it is little more than an accident of our being, that it is not a part of us that we are immortal; that we are immortal spirits, independent of time and space, and that this life is only a kind of arena on which we act for a time and which is only suitable and intended for the purpose of finding out whether we want to serve God or not. We should remember that our existence in this world does not play a greater role than that of players among other players in any game; that life is a kind of dream, just as detached and different from our true, eternal existence as dreaming of waking; a serious dream indeed, since it provides the material for the judgment on us - but in itself a kind of shadow without substance, a scene spread out before us, in which we seem to be and in which it is our duty to act in this way as if everything we see corresponded to the truth and reality, because everything we encounter affects us and our destinies. The born again soul is accepted into the fellowship of saints and angels and its "life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3, 3); it has a place in the court of God and is not of this world; it looks upon this world as a spectator follows a performance, only to be asked from time to time to take on a role, and although he obeys the impulse of the senses, he does so for God's sake and submits to temporal things insofar as they bring them to perfection so that when the veil falls and she finds herself where she has always been, in the kingdom of God, she will be found worthy to enjoy.This conception of life removes all discomfort and disappointment from us that it is so imperfect: we might as well be aware of any random event that happens to us in the course of life, be it an occasional conversation with a stranger, the trouble, or a About an hour's pleasure, expect perfection.

So let us reconsider our present state: it is precious because, amid shadows and images, it reveals to us the existence and qualities of Almighty God and his chosen people; it is precious because it enables us to cultivate relationships with immortal souls who, like us, are undergoing trials. It is of great importance because it is the arena and the means of our testing; beyond that, however, he has no rights to us. "Vanity of vanities," says the preacher, "everything is vanity" (Koh 1, 2).We may be poor or rich, young or old, respected or disregarded, it should no longer affect us, neither inspire nor depress us, as if we were actors in a play who know that the people they are portraying do not they are themselves, and that although they - as kings or peasants - seem superior to one another, they are all on the same level. The one desire that animates us should first of all be to see him face to face, now hidden from us; Then we enjoy in him and through him the everlasting and immediate communion with our friends, whom we currently only know through the mediation of our senses, through uncertain and incomplete channels that give us little insight into their hearts.

These are the right feelings towards an alluring but deceptive world. What do we have to do with their gifts and honors, which we have already baptized into the future world and are no longer citizens of this world? Why should we worry about a long life, about wealth, prestige or comfort, knowing that the other world includes everything that our heart could wish for, not just in appearance, but really and without time limit ? Why should we dwell in this world when it is someone else's pledge and promise? Why should we be content with its surface instead of taking possession of what is hidden beneath it? To those who live by faith, everything they see tells of that world to come; all the splendor of nature - sun, moon and stars - the richness and beauty of the earth: they are as it were symbols and images which testify and teach the invisible divine things. Everything we see is destined to one day break into heavenly bloom and be transformed into immortal glory. At present the sky is beyond our sight, but just as the snow melts in due course and releases the earth on which it lay, so the visible creation will fade before that greater splendor that lies behind it and to which it owes its present existence. In that day the shadows will fade and reality will show. The sun will turn pale and lose itself in the sky; But this will happen before the one whom it only symbolizes, the sun of righteousness, "hides healing in its wings" (Mal 3, 20), and emerges in a visible form, like a bridegroom from his room, while his perishable place Symbol crumbles. The stars that surround it will be displaced by saints and angels who hover around his throne. Above and below, the clouds in the sky, the trees in the field, the waters below will be filled with figures of eternal spirits , the servants of God who do his will. And in our own mortal body an inner man will then find himself in the same way, who then receives his right measure as a harmonious organ of the soul, instead of that coarse mass of flesh and blood that ours Senses For the sake of this glorious revelation, all creation is in labor now, fervently hoping that it will be completed in due time.

These are thoughts that should move us to the Word with zeal and piety: "Come, Lord Jesus, and put an end to the time of waiting, darkness, restlessness, argument, grief and worry." They are thoughts that give us cause for joy every day and every hour that goes by as they bring us closer to the time of its appearance and the end of sin and misery, thoughts that should touch us; they actually would, would be since it was not the burden of guilt that weighs on us - if it were not for the sins that have been committed against light and grace. Oh, if it had been different for us! Oh, if only we were able to practice this doctrine, in which the world instructs us to accept and would have used the gifts of life accordingly so that we could have enjoyed it as something precious despite the feeling of its transience! Oh, if it weren't for the knowledge of dark flaws on our soul, forgot the accumulation of guilt ngenious years, and about weaknesses that plague us all the time! If it weren't for all of this - if it weren't for our state of unpreparedness, as it can in some ways really be called, how joyfully we would greet each new month and year as a sign that our Savior is so much closer to us than he is it has ever been before! May he grant us the fullness of his grace and prepare us for his presence so that we are not in shame when he comes! May he give us the fullness of grace of his sacraments; may he nourish us with his choice gifts; may he drive the poison out of our souls; May he wash us clean in his precious blood and give us the abundance of faith, hope and love as a foretaste of the part in heaven that he has chosen for us!


Regina Kochs
In the castle view 7a
79299 Wittnau


o. Univ.-Prof.
Mag. Dr. Roman Siebenrock
+43 512 507-8542