Nov 16, 2014

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

As the liturgical year draws to a close, the Church in her wisdom reminds us about the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. The first reading gives us the example of the woman whose value is greater than pearls. Why? Because she brings good things and not evil, all the days of her life. She works with loving hands. She cares for the poor and the needy. For this reason, she will receive a reward for her labors and her works will praise her at the gates of the city.

The woman is an image of the soul. The holy soul, like the good woman, receives a reward for its labors. The holy soul is praised by its works. But, as our Gospel tells us, every soul receives the fruit of its handiwork. The good soul receives praise from the Lord: "Well done, my good and faithful servant. ... Come, share your master's joy." What about the soul which is like the last servant? The Lord speaks the saddest words ever heard to this soul: "You wicked, lazy servant! ... Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." The responsorial psalm  says: "Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork." But, how sad the soul who does not walk in the ways of the Lord, because this soul, too, shall eat the fruit of it's handiwork.

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that eternal life is what begins immediately after death. This life has no end. It will be preceded for each by a particular judgment on the part of Christ, the judge of the living and the dead, and it will be ratified in the final judgment. (207) The particular judgment is a judgment of immediate retribution, which, at the moment of death, each one receives from God in their immortal soul, in relation to their faith and their works. This retribution consists in access to the happiness of heaven, either immediately or after an adequate purification, or it consists in eternal condemnation to hell. (208)

This is the meaning of the words of Jesus: "For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Those who walk in the way of the Lord, by his grace, are able to lay down at his feet the good fruit of their lives. And they will receive eternal blessedness and share in the joy of their Master. Those, however, who are before Jesus in the judgment and do not have good fruit, they will lose not only what was given to them but also the joy of the Master. They will share only in the darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Brother and sisters, we will have to give an account of our lives before the Lord. We will have to give an account of each moment, each thought, each word, and each action. What will be the fruit of our lives? Will it be good fruit or not? And St. Paul tells us that the day of our judgment, the day of the Lord, will come like a thief in the night. We need to be prepared each and every day because we do not know when the Lord will call us to give an account of our lives.

Remember, Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life:

God to glorify,
Jesus to imitate,
The Blessed Virgin and the Saints to venerate,
The Angels to invoke,
The soul to save,
The body to mortify,
Virtues from God to beseech,
Sins to expiate,
Heaven to gain,
Hell to avoid,
Eternity to consider,
Time well to apply,
Neighbors to edify,
The world to fear
Demons to fight,
Passions to subdue,
Death always to expect
And yourself for judgment to prepare.

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