For 2021, the Catholic Sentinel has invited several local priests to send 400-word homilies they would give if they knew they could never give one again — their final message.

The most important thing in the world is faith in God. The best of all is the Catholic faith because it is certain knowledge of God through the revelation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” This did not come about by human initiation or creativity, but rather it comes as a living gift from God whose love wills it for the human race. The vessel by which this gift is transmitted is the whole people of God, the church and me. I have a part as each one does. Each one of us is accountable for the part we play.

The Lord Jesus made promises that are altogether reliable and extremely beautiful for those who commit themselves to the life he invited us to: service of the Gospel. Among his promises is eternal life, which is faith’s goal from the beginning to the end of each day. All the events and decisions that occur in life are best when aimed at reaching this destination. Although challenges and difficulties are certain along the way, one is assured of a peaceful conscience and happiness while our final hope rests on eternal life.

Know this: Human beings are flawed. We need to be saved; that’s why Jesus came. Many think that they are able to do everything on their own and choose not to listen to God but they soon realize they make many mistakes. Without God, people make bad decisions that cause harm or damage to themselves and others. They sin. They drift away from God, seeking pleasures or following their appetites and passions. Pain and hardship always follow. Relationships and families are destroyed because someone doesn’t listen to God. When whole societies and public leaders follow this pattern the driving forces are greed, lust for power, domination and control, which brings lying, injustice, riots, violence and crime with every sort of corruption and finally war — death. There are a plethora of historical examples of this. The final remedy for such pain and darkness is God’s forgiveness, mercy and love.

Pleasures do not bring happiness and fulfillment. No amount of money, possessions, power or substance will ever make a person happy.

Being good and doing good things makes us happy. Listening to God and following Jesus brings goodness, love, peace, joy and fulfillment in this life and confirms our faith and hope in the eternal life to come!

Fr. O’Brien is pastor of St. Edward Parish in Lebanon and St. Bernard Parish in Scio.