On Ash Wednesday every Catholic in the world was called to come to face to face with something few often reflect on, their own mortality. Reflecting on our mortality is not an easy thing to do. In doing so we are forced to realize that our lives as we know it can be over at almost any moment. And what is the point, right? Why spend time thinking to ourselves that most everything in this life, including ourselves, will likely come to an end including that healthy bank account, our expensive home, and that comfortable car?
For myself, one of the most fruitful realizations to come out of a reflection on my mortality is a deeper analysis as to where my priorities actually lie. Is most of my time and energy focused on myself, my family, God, or something else altogether? What activities and priorities of mine are too high on the list and which are too low? This is the kind of analysis that I seem to always come to when I reflect on my mortality and it is usually very eye-opening. During these times of reflection I usually ask myself, “Nicholas do you really follow the J.O.Y. model?
What is the J.O.Y. model? The J.O.Y. model means that our priorities should simply be Jesus and Others before Yourself. This is a very hard model to live by. As fathers I think most of us honestly strive for O.J.Y. not J.O.Y., I know that I usually do. I have to constantly remind myself that ultimately “J” must come before “O” for many reasons. Jesus of course wants to and ought to be the center of our lives. Lent reminds us that Christ suffered unimaginable pain and death to save us from sin. And if we lived justly, then we would give all of our life, every moment, to the one who gave us life, gives us life, and gives us life eternal. Furthermore, by living our life for Christ, through Christ, and with Christ we are able to be fully joyful, generous, holy, and virtuous. Another reason “J “comes before “O” is simply because we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t have Jesus as the center of our lives, then how can we pass that on to someone else, such as our own children?
To close up this reflection I simply want to encourage you to share the J.O.Y. model with your children and your families. Spend some time in prayer with your family and ask the Lord God for the grace to live by the J.O.Y. model. For it is only by God’s grace that we could come to live a life such as that. Some little ways to put Jesus first in your life include praying a decade of the rosary on your way to work, reading a few verses from the Catholic Bible at night, or finding a good Catholic book or Lenten book to read during this important time of prayer in the Church. What do you think of the J.O.Y. model? Does it resonate with you? Have you heard of this model of priorities before?