The term bucket list - as it appears in the Macmillan Dictionary 2020 - is as follows:
A list of the things you want to do before you reach a certain age, or before you die
The term bucket list is a relatively new one, popularized by a movie of the same name starring American actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, released in 2007.
Bucket list comes from the phrase ‘to kick the bucket,’ a figure of speech meaning ‘to die.’
As strange of a thing it is to talk about - we all come with an expiration date. We do not know when, where or how it will happen - and we pray that that day is not today - but we know that it will happen someday.
And so we ask ourselves, are we doing all that we can here on Earth before we leave?
Now that I have your attention, let us look at the Top Ten Things On A Bucket List according to bucketlist.net:
- See The Northern Lights
- Get a tattoo
- Go on a cruise
- Swim with the dolphins
- Get married
- Go scuba diving
- Run a marathon
- Buy a house
- Go zip lining
While reading over these, I began to scratch my head. Woah! Where am I, and what am I doing with my life?
Full disclosure on this. I talked to a person at Church earlier this spring, and they were describing their own bucket list. They wanted to travel to these countries, obtain their Doctoral degree, and achieve many other goals.
I listened in mostly silence, only asking a few questions. Finally, the time came for them to ask me what was on my bucket list.
Without thinking, I blurted (with great enthusiasm), “I would like to convert the Country of Turkey to Christianity, then I would like to turn the Hagia Sophia back into an Orthodox Cathedral!"
They looked at me like I had just announced that I'd come down with cancer. As I looked at their shocked faces, I began to wonder about the entire concept of a bucket list.
Three questions were rolling around in my mind: What is a bucket list? What should be on it? And most importantly, Why are we here on Earth?
First, what is a bucket list meant to be? It's a good question - we know that it's a 21st-century creation that has become part of today's lexicon. It begs the question: if you knew that you were dying, what would you do differently?
Considering today's society, it's no wonder that most bucket lists are focused on individual, pleasure-seeking experiences.
But what does the Bible say about what we should be focusing on before we die?
But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Should we be worried about having fun in this world, or should we worry about the experience we'll have in the next world instead? What messages has God given us in this direction?
From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor perceived with the ears: the eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee. Isaiah 64:4
For behold I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former things shall not be in remembrance, and they shall not come upon the heart. Isaiah 65:17
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for, when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12
In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.Ephesians 2:2
Does God want us to relax here on Earth or to do his work here on Earth? You may make up your mind as you see fit, but I believe the choice should be an easy one.
Second, what should be on a bucket list? Here, we will look to the famous football coach Vince Lombardi.
Coach Lombardi attended Fordham University, a Jesuit College, and many of his quotes reflect this topic:
Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become your character.
There's only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.
The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.
The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.
Coach Lombardi was a rockstar football player, but off the field, he was a rockstar for Christ. He went to daily Mass and was an excellent example of a person who worked until their last breath.
Perhaps his bucket list included taking Washington to the Super Bowl. He passed away before that happened, but he worked hard while here on Earth in his last days.
Third, why are we here on Earth? Are we here for a purpose, or are we here to have fun? Is there no greater meaning or purpose to this amazing gift of life? For some, bucket list items can become sources of meaning and purpose, even if they aren't always fulfilling.
But why aren't they fulfilling? Because there is something very deep within us that says there is more to life than any of these things - that we are here for some significant purpose.
From the words of Bishop Fulton Sheen:
Freedom does not mean the right to do whatever we please, but rather to do as we ought. The right to do whatever we please reduces freedom to a physical power and forgets that freedom is a moral power.
It's impossible to lose your footing when you are on your knees.
…you will not just reason yourself into the meaning and purpose of life. You will act yourself into the meaning and purpose of life by breaking the shell of egotism and selfishness, by cleaning the window of the moral life and allowing the sunshine to come in. You would not be seeking God if you had not already in some way found Him. You are a king in exile, you have a kingdom.
According to Sheen, we won't find the purpose of life through the intellect. We find it through “acts of love for neighbor."
Instead of getting annoyed at the peculiar looks I received at mention of my bucket list, I turned to the words of 1 Maccabees 1:
41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
42 and abandon their particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
43 and many Israelites delighted in his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
Brothers and sisters, today we find ourselves in a similar situation as the Jews. Because I believe this, and because I believe in Vince Lombardi and Bishop Fulton Sheen, I implore you that we must change our ways. This will require us to put our own life on our Bucket List and make strides to change the world, both now and forever.