What Will You Say at the End of the Day

As part of programs designed to help people discern their vocation in life, I’ve sometimes asked people to do a version of an obituary exercise. There are many versions of the exercise, but the thrust is to get people to focus on how they want to be remembered.

I thought about the exercise in connection with today’s first Mass reading. In the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul, knowing that the time of his death is approaching, says: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” Not a bad thing to be able to say at the end of the day.

When asked at the time he retired from the Supreme Court what he thought was his greatest accomplishment, Thurgood Marshall replied: “I did the best I could with what I had.” I’d like to be able to say that also.

And then there is the humorist Erma Bombeck, whose version of Marshall’s sentiment was, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” I can’t think of a better way of expressing gratitude to God for all of our gifts.

What will you say to God as the end of your human life? What do you want to be able to say?