I have to admit that when I first saw this quote, phrase, or whatever you want to call it, I really liked it. I do like simple quotes like this, and this one was pretty straightforward. I mean, it’s not like I reflected on it any longer than the twenty-eight seconds I usually allow myself to think about such phrases. In fact, the first time I saw the phrase, the conversation went a little something like this… “Live? Check. I am breathing and I am pretty sure my heart is beating. Laugh? Well tell me something funny! Love? I like this one.”
I saw it as nothing more than a sort of quick-inspirational boost that had a catchy ring to it. Really, that is the purpose of such phrases. However, because I see this quote everywhere, I have found myself reflecting on it more and more. And after a bit of reflection, I truly believe a phrase like this is perfectly aligned with our faith. Living and laughing may not be theological virtues, but reflecting on them through the lens of Christ can help us to a deeper understanding of the universal call to holiness that we are all called to, well, “live”.
Yes, our hearts are beating. We are breathing (and if you live in the Midwest, you will be able to see your breath as proof!) But as Christians, that is not the interpretation of the word we are called to. We must interpret it in a way that our faith demands. “Live” tells us not just simply to “be alive” but rather “live fully.” “Love” tells us not to simply “love”, but to truly pour ourselves out for all those in need. “Laugh” doesn’t just tell us to throw our heads back and chuckle, but, well, laughing a lot? You get my point.
St. Ireneaus believed that the glory of God was living fully in Him. This is one of my favorite quotes, and not just because it sounds good. I love this quote because living within our God is how we were created to live! We are not supposed to do so a few days out of the week. We are called to live in God on a day-to-day basis. We are called to live in a way where we get out of bed with the attitude of giving our entire selves to God. Yes, this does differ from the “wake up in the morning and hate to go to work” kind of living.
OK, I know what you may be thinking. “Get real! Do you really expect every day to be great?” Well, yes. Each day may not be great in our terms, but it should be great in God’s. Let me explain. Making sacrifices of faith, hope and love is not always going to feel good. Living heroic virtue is not something that is always going to leave us with an incredible amount of energy. Realistically speaking, living “fully alive” is difficult. It demands a lot. In fact, it demands everything we have. Not everyday is going to be the most incredible day you have ever experienced. That certainly is not what our Lord said. Truly living, and living fully, demands we wake up and go to bed with the heart of someone who intends to make the sacrifices of faith, hope, and love with everything they have.
Jobs are difficult. Our families can get on our nerves. But really, when we think about it, where would we be without either? It is much easier to complain than to be grateful. It doesn’t take much effort to complain either. Our Lord is calling us to live greater and it starts in the little things. Doing homework or washing the dishes may be annoying tasks. Living fully, however, begins with those seemingly annoying or mundane tasks and completes them with a true gift of self. With homework?! Yes. It all begins with what is right in front of us. It begins with making the sacrifices for our husbands or wives, brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers, and to do so with a smile on our face.
This is going to be different for all of us. The new year brings many new hopes. Let this be one of them. I realize I am speaking in broad terms. But I do so with the hope that each of us will take the time to reflect how our God is calling us, in our daily, to plunge into the fullness of our call: the call to “fully live” in the way we were intended to live.
Jon Leonetti is the author of two books entitled - Mission of the Family and Your God Is Too Boring. He currently travels the country giving keynote presentations and parish missions. Learn more by visiting jonleonetti.com
The Live Greater Foundation exists to encourage ordinary people to live in extraordinary ways. Learn more about their work at livegreaterfoundation.org.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.