Remember final exams in school? Well, in the seminary, 15 years after grad school, they exist again for me. Just as college students get all worked up over final exams, so do seminarians. The final test is always important to us.
I’ve found that there are different types of final exams. Some are comprehensive from the whole semester, some are not. On some finals, you get to choose questions you want to answer and some you don’t. Some are simple, some are complicated, some are easy and some hard. Some finals are essays, some are oral, and some are skipped altogether.
But we all have a final exam in life. It is the real final exam, and God is preparing us for that final with smaller tests throughout our lives. While we’re busy with the tests of school and the realities of making a living, God is also testing us with the real tests.
We have some Vietnamese students here in the seminary, and how they can study philosophy after just learning english, I have no idea. So this past semester, as finals were coming up, I went by and asked, “Do you guys need help with stuff?” Yes. OK. So we spent a good amount of time over several days working together on philosophy studies. Another guy from Brazil: do you need help? Yes. OK. Then we went at Latin and philosophy. We all worked together.
We all made it through finals. And afterwards, they all took me out to eat. We had become good friends. We all passed the real exam.
God is looking to see what happens when the tests of life come. When the tests come, do we really trust in Him or do we think about our own interests? Do we think only about taking care of our own work, or our own family, or our own property, our own grade, our own health, our own whatever? Do we trust in ourselves? Or do we think about others also. Are we like Him?
In the middle of the tests and trials, Jesus is interested in the ones at the bottom. He is just like His Father. On the Cross, He is being bled for His very last penny and His very last drop of blood, but He is thinking about His mother and the beloved disciple, He is thinking about the ones who are putting Him to death, He is thinking of the thieves crucified next to Him, and He is thinking about you and me.
We all have a final exam coming up in our life, the moment of death. It will be a very simple, oral exam in the presence of Jesus. He will ask us one question: Do I recognize you?
How have you treated the ones at the bottom?
“Amen I say to you, whenever you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)