Thursday of Week 17 in Ordinary Time

I would doubt that many Catholics today hear their parish priest teaching about Death and Judgement, especially at funerals.  Over the years they have become taboo topics and even some funerals have become quasi-canonisation ceremonies.  But, do you ever wonder how we might feel at the moment of our death?  Will we be fearful over what may happen to us?  Or will we be full of anticipation at the thought that we will soon come face-to-face with God?  Our answer reveals much about the state of our faith.  Without faith in God’s love and mercy, we may be afraid.  We could be frightened that there will be nothing after death or, worse yet, that there will be a harsh judgment on our life.

In the Gospel today, Our Lord ends a string of seven parables talking about the end of time.  His words leave no doubt that there will be a final judgment when Our Lord returns in glory when, according to the Catechism: ‘the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare’ 1039.  Frightening as this may sound to some people; we need to remember also that the Last Day ‘will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all, that God’s love is stronger than death’ 1040.

Death and Judgment are conversation topics most people avoid.  And yet they are inevitable, because we all know that one day our lives will end in death.  We can live our lives preparing for our eternal destiny, or we can let the day-to-day demands of life preoccupy us and obscure the future.  The Last Judgment is essentially a call to conversion.  God wants us to be counted among the righteous, and he gives us every opportunity to come to him in prayer and in the Sacraments.  He even sent his Son to die on the Cross for us so that we could enjoy everlasting life.

And so today let us pray for an increase in faith so that at the moment of our death, we will know, without worry or doubt, that the Lord is waiting to greet us.

The Last Judgement (detail) by Stefan Lochner
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