Today we are all shocked at the terrorist attacks that have left over 150 people dead in Paris. It is sobering to remember that death can come upon us suddenly, when we are in the midst of life. This is something that during November, leading up to the end of the Church Year, we are reminded to consider – the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.
If you google “judgment quotes”, you’ll come up with some interesting insights into how people generally feel about the idea of judgment:
“Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand, but you don’t.”
“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.”
“Before you judge me, make sure you’re perfect.”
“Love is the absence of judgment.”
While it is easy to use these lines against other people, what are we going to say when we come before God? After all, he’s perfectly entitled to judge us, because he does know us inside and out, and he is completely perfect. And I doubt God would agree that love is the absence of judgement. Anyone who says that, doesn’t believe in Justice. In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes how the Son of Man will come ‘with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.’
Who are his chosen? The truth is that God is a loving Father and he wants us all to be his chosen, but he gives us the freedom to reject him. So when God comes to judge us, there will be two basic responses. One leads to everlasting life, and one is very likely to lead to eternal separation from God.
Now listen here, God. I’ve tried my best to live a pretty good life. And I’m not judgmental like those awful people who always talk about other people’s faults and imperfections. Anyway, you made me with certain desires and needs, so whatever I’ve done in my life, I’ve been true to myself, my wants, my nature. What could be more natural than that? I’m proud of what I’ve done in my life. If you’re a loving God, why on earth would you want to judge me? Nobody has the right to judge me.
Loving Father, you know all things. You gave me life, you know my heart, you know just how well or poorly I have followed you in my life. And I am aware that I can’t get to heaven by my own effort. I am totally reliant on your grace. Jesus offered up his life to save me. Please forgive me and through your great mercy allow me to live with you forever in heaven.
We don’t know the hour when we will end up before the judgement seat of the Throne of God. Let’s spend some time examining our consciences and going to confession before Christmas. And let’s pray for God’s mercy on those who have lost their lives in France. While we’re about it, how about the grace of conversion for those involved in terrorism and for those who are too full of themselves to be open to God.
Word format: Year B 33rd Sunday 2015
Pdf format: Year B 33rd Sunday 2015
If you want some evidence for the accuracy of the Prophet Daniel’s predictions about the Messiah, listen to Bishop Robert Barron’s homily here. Bishop Barron explains why the Jews were expecting a Messiah right around the time that Jesus appeared. And for a Scripture Study on today’s readings, try Dr John Bergsma’s commentary at The Sacred Page.