The purpose of life on earth is to prepare for eternal life. Distractions are anything that take our minds off that all important purpose. Life is full of these distractions. Many of them are necessary. Some, in small doses, are basically harmless. While others are deadly.
We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Many adults spend at least 40 hours a week working. The average Canadian spends three to four hours a day watching TV. Many others spend their leisure time playing lottery tickets, reading the newspaper, chatting on the phone or shopping. While none of these things are necessarily sinful, how much time do they leave for praying, doing charitable work or going to Mass?
Most of us must spend the majority of our waking hours earning a living, caring for our children, cutting the lawn, washing dishes, paying bills, etc. These are necessary and good practices. But they also can be dangerous distractions when they lead our hearts and minds away from God. The biblical story of Mary and Martha comes to mind. Martha was doing good work, but she was so focused and anxious about it that she forgot to spend time with the Lord.
Religion, itself, can be a dangerous distraction. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day did focus on religion; however, they focused on details and missed the main point. They placed more importance on religious law than on caring for people. They were more concerned about appearing pious than being pious and they were more concerned about status than becoming holy.
Sinful distractions can be the most pleasurable and are, of course, the most deadly. Drug and alcohol abuse, excessive gambling, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and adultery are examples. The stress and hardship of everyday life can make them extremely tempting and addicting. These distractions can severe our relationship with God and, if unrepented, end in eternal separation from Him.
Because of the dangerous distractions presented by the three enemies of our souls – the world, the flesh and the devil – many people enter Religious life. Since it is not possible for the majority of humanity to “leave the world” by becoming nuns, monks, brothers or priests, we must remember and glorify God in all that we do. We must do our work in a joyous spirit, honestly and well. We must choose recreational activities that are good and uplifting. We must use some of our leisure time to help others and to pray. In all we do, we must remember the two most important commandments: To love God with our whole mind, heart and soul and to love others as ourselves. And, of course, we must absolutely avoid sin.
It is so easy and natural to completely focus on this material life and forget about eternal life. It takes a constant and determined effort to focus on pleasing God in all that we do, think and say, but it is more than worth the effort.