Years back, in Omaha, we met a retired police officer who’d experienced a near-death “journey” during a heart attack and when asked what he took from it, said with no hesitation, “There are no big deals.”
By that he meant that the standing of people and things we think are of such consequence here on earth, in the folds of worldliness, up there on TV, evaporate in the real “up there” (or “out there” — for there is also the gnashing of teeth). They are not big deals; no one is — not kings, not premiers, not presidents, not queens — and certainly not billionaires, who have much baggage to squeeze through a narrow entrance. Spiritually, the celebrity culture is, at best, child’s play.
Let’s look at Scripture. As pointed out two Sundays ago, there is Says Psalms 62: “Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.” Meditate on that the next time you are impressed with wealth or notoriety, with academic standing, even religious celebrities.
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).
“Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion” (Proverbs 30:8).
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you.” (James 5:1-6).
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).
How many, in our raucous times, are listening to this?
In the world there are currently 36 million millionaires. There are 2,043 billionaires. Just a few of them could erase poverty in entire nations! A single billionaire could provide million safe water, or halt the extinction of many animals. Or stop pillaging othe the rain forests — could rebuild places struck by disaster. Yet, we hoard money, as if we die with it; as if we need it for standing — when in fact it is a detriment.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews, 13:5).
When we die, we are accountable for what we did or didn’t do to help others. If and when we get to Heaven and if and when they did or do, we will see that Elvis, that Lennon, that Lincoln, that Churchill, that the Rockefellers, that Washington, that Kennedy, that Gates, that Bezos are simple passersby; like us, in the walk to God — pedestrians.
The “big deal” in Heaven is only holiness — and often economics, politics, and certainly entertainment — in fact, most often — drag us away from that. Celebrities are a mirage. Celebrities — whether in Hollywood or Washington, or Silcon Valley — are not big deals in the scheme of eternity. The little old lady saying a Rosary in the back pew: she will be the big deal.
Too many good Catholics, devout Catholics, loving Catholics, have been swept into various torrents from which they should withdraw themselves. While on earth, we do respect authority — governmental as well as ecclesiastic. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
But always must we keep in mind that in the end, in Heaven, and forever, Christ is the only King.