Randy lost control of his motorcycle, crashed it in a ditch and died. The tragedy occurred on a quiet stretch of highway, so it took a few hours before someone discovered the body. He was 48 years old, had very good paying job and was president of a local charity.
I only met him once, a few years ago at a restaurant. We had enjoyed a meal with some mutual acquaintances. He spoke a lot and seemed outgoing, confident, intelligent, attractive and competent. He was well known and respected. He was divorced and had custody of his two teenage daughters because his ex-wife was an alcoholic. Allegedly, he also had a drinking problem.
For some time, Randy had dated a very attractive woman named Cindy. People said she was a nymphomaniac and that he had broken up with her because she was habitually unfaithful. Cindy claimed that, just prior to his death, Randy had been drinking for a few days and hadn’t slept much.
There is an old Italian saying: “Show me who you go with and I’ll show you who you are.” Randy’s friends were a lot like him. Most were divorced or single, all of them drank (a few drank heavily), and probably all of them, at least occasionally, smoked pot. They liked to attend rock concerts, have sex with various women, and lace their conversation with plenty of F-words. But, because of the culture in which we live, most people would consider them fairly normal, decent men.
The day after he died, I went bird hunting with one of Randy’s friends. Jim came by my house to pick me up. As soon as I got into his truck, he broke the news to me. I could tell that the tragedy had seriously affected him.
Deep in the serene, beautiful woods of Northern Ontario, Jim looked at me and said quietly, “Randy’s dead. I can’t believe it.” A few minutes later, he asked, “Why does God end our lives? I love my life and I don’t want it to end.” Jim, like Randy, had no use for religion. He was single, had slept with many women, and enjoyed attending rock concerts, drinking booze, swearing, and puffing on the occasional joint.
“Our lives on earth are short,” I answered. “They can end any time, but the next life goes on for ever. Heaven’s much better than life on earth – if you get there. Not everyone’s going to make it.”
Are you a practicing Catholic? Have you forsaken sinful pleasures? If so, please remember to pray for people like Randy and Jim and don’t be shy about sharing your faith with them. Our time on earth is short and can end even today!