Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Homily Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year 19 November 2006

I have very fond memories from my childhood of spending time with my Dad.
I remember taking long walks around town…
I remember enjoying walking by
and watching the construction of our new parish church.

I have memories of going to church on Sunday mornings with my Dad…
sometimes driving, or walking when the weather was nice.
My Dad and I had a routine that I can still remember…
the streets we walked on, our parking place, the people we saw,
the confession line, our regular seat in church.

I can also remember that in those moments we spent together…
I learned some very important lessons I learned from my Dad…
He told me that, no matter what we do…good or bad…God is always watching us.
He told me that God has a big book in which He writes everything we do…
and keeps track of all our good deeds, and also all the bad things we do.
That’s a powerful image for a kid.
I believed my Dad…
What he said made me aware from an early age
that God was really paying attention to me.
I knew I had to watch how I acted…
because even if “no one knew”…
I couldn’t hide anything from God.

The Sacred Scriptures today use a similar image.
The Prophet Daniel has a vision of the Archangel Michael…
and a time of judgement in which “some shall live forever”
and “others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.”
He says that God’s people shall escape…
“everyone who is found written in the book.”
The Lord keeps account of those who are faithful to Him,
and he rewards them with life and happiness.

We find ourselves nearing the end of the church year…
and preparing to begin a new year with the Season of Advent.
The readings from Sacred Scripture at this time always speak to us of the end times,
and of the judgement that is to come for every human person.

In addition to the Book of Daniel…
today’s Gospel also presents a powerful image of the end times.
We hear of great tribulation and darkness,
in which the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
We see Christ coming in power and glory…
with all His angels…
who gather from the ends of the earth those who are pleasing to God.

Every once in a while,
we hear of someone claiming to know the exact time when the world will end
or we catch a supermarket tabloid foretelling the end times.
I’m sure you all remember that in the months leading up to the New Year 2000
there were all kinds of theories about the end of the world
and many people were very afraid.
In the end…nothing happened!
The alleged threats about computer glitches destroying the universe quickly passed
and the fears subsided.

Outlandish ideas come and go…
But the end of the world…and the final judgement…
is not something we can predict.
The Lord tells us that no one except God the Father knows the day and the hour.

What we do know…is that each of us will one day pass from this life.
Death comes to us all…even for the Archbishop.
Each of us will stand before the Judgement seat of Christ…
to give an account of our lives.

None of us knows the day or the hour of our own death.
It, too, is not something we can predict.

As the preface of the Funeral Mass proclaims…
for the Christian, in death “life is changed, not ended.”
Changed…not ended…
The question is…what kind of change will each of us experience?
What will be our eternal lot?

There is a Heaven…eternal life and blessed repose with God…
complete and total happiness and perfection.
It is the completion of our journey of faith which begins here and now.

There is a Hell…complete separation from God,
where there is no love and no joy.
It is the punishment of those who did not seek to be united with God
but instead sought to serve their own interests,
and placed money and fame and pleasure above the love of God.

Those whose directed their lives toward God…
but did not fully attain the perfection worthy of Heaven…
find themselves in need of additional purification for their sins
This we call Purgatory.
In this month of November we pray for the poor souls in Purgatory,
that God in his mercy grant them eternal life.

Our eternal reward…or punishment…
has much to do with the choices we make in this life.

As we know from experience…our actions have consequences.

If we study hard, we learn important lessons which are valuable later in life.
If we work hard, we can take care of ourselves and our families.
If we pray, we are in a good relationship with God.
If we give what we have for others, we can make a positive difference in their lives.

On the other hand…
If we don’t study, we fail in school.
If we do abuse drugs and alcohol, do foolish things and make ourselves sick.
If we disobey our parents or our teachers, we are grounded or go to detention.
If we get into a fight, someone gets hurt.
If we slack off at work, we get fired.
If we don’t come to Mass, and pray every day, we grow apart from God…
we end up trying to live a long distance relationship with the Lord.

Whether good or bad…our actions have consequences…
So it is in eternal life.
Our actions have eternal consequences.
God holds us accountable for the way we live,
for the way we use or abuse the gifts, opportunities, and relationships
that He has given to us.
Our goodness pleases God…and our sins displease Him.
God will judge us based on our fidelity to Him,
and will assign to us our eternal reward or our eternal punishment.

It is also true, of course, that we cannot simply earn our way into Heaven
just by racking up good deeds.
Ultimately, we depend on the grace and mercy of God.

An ancient Jewish proverb speaks to this very well:
“Work as if everything depends on you.
Pray as if everything depends on God.”

Our place in God’s book and among His blessed in Heaven is His alone to give.
Yet, he judges our worthiness
based on the way in which we have used or abused the life He has given us.
Where shall we find ourselves at the end of our earthly journey?
This moment in the life of the Church is a time to ponder this question…
and to take very seriously our calling to live holy lives…
for it is no less than a matter of life and death!

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