Friday, November 23, 2012



Each of us will one day die. St. Benedict taught us to remember death. “Keep death ever before your eyes.” Now this is not intended to be morbid. Not at all. Benedict wanted us to live each day of our lives as if that day will be our last. Jesus himself said it well: No one knows the day or the hour. “Watch!” “Be ready!”

This is also the time of year when many people come up with end day scenarios and try to pinpoint the end of time. And even though the Twinkie went extinct this week, and because both IU and Notre Dame are ranked # 1, for some that seems apocalyptic, it is not likely the end.

But the reality is that one day all of "this" will pass away. And death will come for us all. Death Judgment Heaven or hell. The end of all things. In theology we call this Eschatology, the study of the last things.

When we die, our souls return to God and we are judged at what is called the Particular Judgment, as individuals, and we will know whether we will spend our eternity in heaven or hell.

We may experience purgatory – the process of purification whereby our souls become accustomed to the light of God, much like after going to a movie during the day, after being in a darkened theater for two hours, when we reenter the lobby of the theater we squint as our eyes begin to adjust to the light of day. So it is with our souls, after living here on earth for so long, our spirits will enter eternal life and eternal light. C.S. Lewis referred to our earthly existence here on earth as the Shadowlands, and believed real life hasn’t even begun.

Then on the Resurrection and the Last Day, all the bodies of the dead, the saints and the damned will rise and be reunited with their souls, then Christ will come again in glory in what we call the Last Judgment or the General Judgment souls of all will be gathered before Christ and all things will be revealed. Then the Fulfillment of the Kingdom of God will take place.

These are the teachings of Christ, the Scriptures, and the Church. As St. Paul said, eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him. Paul wrote: 1 Cor. 6:19 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." If we have accepted Christ, been baptized, and are incorporated into the body of Christ, our souls and our bodies belong to the Lord. This is basic Christian teaching.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King.

We began this month remembering all the saints who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, all those canonized and those thousands and thousands of holy ones whose holiness is recognized by God and the faith community. 

We also pray for all souls, all those who have died, the faithful and just who were redeemed by the Blood of Christ, and even those whose faith is known to God alone. 

Over the past few weeks we have experienced death here at our parish. Through the year members of our parish and family members and other loved ones have also died. But life for them is changed, not ended. 

Yet the souls of all the faithful departed who have served Christ as king, and our own souls, will one day be reunited with our bodies in a glorified form.

As St. John says, “We are God’s children, but what we shall be has yet to be revealed.” St. Paul also tells us that we will all be changed in an instant and we shall be caught up to God; and we pray every Sunday that: “We LOOK FORWARD to the resurrection of the Dead!

So, let us always pray for those who have died: as Saint Ambrose wrote: “We have loved them in this life; let us not forget them in death." 

So on this feast of Christ the King, which King will we serve? 

Imagine that you and I are on a great hill overlooking a valley. To the north we see a Christ the King with all his angels and saints. He seeks our love and service. And he promises a share in eternal life and victory over sin, death and Satan.

And then far to the south we see another king with his troops; this is Satan. He is surrounded by his demons and fallen angels that seek to devour human souls, to ensnare them in sin, and lead all to hell.

Satan tempts us with material possessions and earthly riches; he tempts us with fame and popularity and disordered pleasures; he tempts us with power; envy and jealousy of others’ successes; and a life of greed – even if that means others may have little to nothing.

And above all he tempts us with pride, an arrogant attitude of mind and heart. Satan offers us a life of power over others, especially the poor and lowly.

We are faced with this choice daily. Which King will we choose? Christ or Satan?

And so we turn to our Lord Jesus and our eyes gaze into his and we deny Satan any authority in our lives.

Jesus says, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” We will die with him and rise with him in our ministry to one another.

In our humility, Christ calls us forth and He gently places our Cross upon our shoulders which will be our weapon of faith, hope, charity and justice.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of persons who have been freed for relationship with God and one another. We are free to serve!

It could be that one of the saddest things in hell may be a fairly decent sinner who lies upon the smoldering dung heap, weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth in regret of the million daily choices where he was reluctant or unwilling to do good and care for others.

So whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, saint or sinner, it matters not as long as we are serving the Lord and giving glory to God by our love of God and love and service to our neighbor in our prayers and our deeds.

As St. Teresa of Avila said, the only treasure we take to heaven is that which we gave away while on earth.

Those who are living and giving the Kingdom of God live in hope and live a life of gratitude and thanksgiving!

This is the goal of our faith. This is our hope and our salvation.

Christ is calling each of us today to holiness and a life of gospel giving and thanksgiving.

The Church year always ends with the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. And how appropriate that we ponder our lives as the bright and beautiful leaves of autumn have died and fallen to the earth, crumbling to dust, preparing for the winter of death.

Yet we know that after the death of winter that new life will spring forth!

Nature itself proclaims resurrection!

And it is the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that brings us to new and eternal life! So we pray to serve him in this life, so as to serve Him forever in the next, in his kingdom of truth and life, holiness and grace….the Kingdom of Justice, Charity, and Peace! 

Yet “each and every one of us at the end of the journey of life, will come face to face with one or the other of two faces: either the merciful, loving face of Jesus Christ or the miserable face of Satan. We can journey down a thousand times ten thousand roads, but we will end at either of those two faces. And one of them, either the merciful, tender face of Christ or the hideous face of Satan will say, ‘Mine…. Mine’” [Quote from Fulton J. Sheen].

Make no mistake, the Lord can make glorified saints out of the most ignorant sinners who are good-hearted and turn back to Him.

And, happily, the Lord longs for wounded souls to call upon Him for help and grace. That’s all it takes. And for this we are ever grateful.

He is the King who can grant clemency to those He wishes.

He is the Regent of a Kingdom of Mercy and Forgiveness.

May we be His and hear those blessed words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the Kingdom prepared for you! Come, enjoy the feast of Christ of your King.” 

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

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