14 Minutes to Live

I am writing these words in the middle of the August.  The nuclear missiles of North Korea are aimed toward the United States mainland and also aimed at the little island of Guam.  In retaliation, United States missiles are “locked and loaded” and aimed at Pyongyang, North Korea.  There are a little less than 200,000 people on the tiny island of Guam; all those born there are ipso facto American citizens.  The island is an American territory and presently directly in the sites and range of nuclear missiles.

During Mass on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, that would be August 13, 2017, a priest in the local parish on the island of Guam gave a pertinent sermon entitled “14 Minutes to Live.”  It would take about 14 minutes for the nuclear missiles launched from North Korea to strike Guam, and so the parish priest asked the chilling question: “If you had 14 minutes to live, what would you do and would you be ready for judgement?”  How sobering is that?  As the faithful were leaving the packed church in Guam, those interviewed were clearly shaken.  It is a frightening message to all of us.  For us in New York the question would be extended to “If you had 29 minutes to live, what would you do and would you be ready for judgment?”   We are fortunate to get an extra 15 minutes of discernment.  Hopefully you could find a priest and make your confession within that time to be shriven of your sins.  But no one escapes the question of Final Judgment.

So, what would you do?  Would you be ready for judgment?  Hopefully you would be in the State of Grace and not worry.  Our Lord tells us: “On Judgment Day, the Son of Man will come like a thief in the night, when you least expect Him.  Be ready!” 

I have walked the streets of Hiroshima and seen the destruction.  Part of the destroyed city has been permanently left intact to remind us of the devastation of war.  It is not a pleasant sight, but it is a somber reminder to us of the horrors of war, and a reminder to us that we will all be judged…when we least expect it!  Will you be ready?

– Fr. Gerard Gordon