Monday, November 16, 2009

33rd Sunday - homily

Washington has a basketball team of priests! We call ourselves, “DC ‘Hood” (which is short for DC priesthood). We have been playing parish teams for the past 5 years. It’s been fun to talk trash to the parishes, telling them to put together their best team of parents, coaches, teachers, and teens, and we’ll beat ‘em! We’ve actually won more games than we’ve lost. This Friday, DC ‘Hood is playing my old parish, St Andrew’s, in Silver Spring at 7 pm. We have GW students going, but I’d like to take a whole bunch of you. If you’re interested, please email me this week. It will be a lot of fun. We’ll provide transportation and there will be pizza afterwards. Hope you can join us.

This weekend, a movie came out called, “2012”. If you’ve seen the ads for it, you know that it’s about the end of the world coming in 2012. Well, we just heard from our Lord that “no one knows” when the end of the world will be. Jesus doesn’t even know! Only the Father knows. So, Hollywood doesn’t know, Nostradamus didn’t know, the ancient Mayans didn’t know. Nobody knows, and yet we’re consumed with the question of “when will the end be?”

The question shouldn’t be “when”, but “am I ready?” We’ve talked here before about always being ready. You never know when the time will come, so you always have to be ready. It could come tonight, next week, in 50 years. You always have to be ready for judgment. Now, there are two types of judgment: the particular judgment that awaits us all at the time of our death and the general judgment at the end of the world. In the particular judgment, we will go before the judgment seat of Christ and hopefully be found worthy of the Kingdom, by God’s Grace. Most of us will not be ready to go to the Kingdom to be with God in all His Glory and the angels and saints forever. I say most of us because the only people who go straight to Heaven when they die are martyrs. So, we will need to be purified before we enter Heaven; this state of purification is called Purgatory.

Now, a lot of people misunderstand Purgatory. They think that everyone goes there. This isn’t true. Hell is real. We just heard a description of it in the first reading: “everlasting horror and disgrace”. Jesus talks about Hell almost as much as He does about Heaven because He doesn’t want us going there. But, if we make it to Purgatory, that’s really good…it means we’re in! No matter how long or hard it is for us, it means we’re going to the Kingdom.

The general judgment applies to what we hear in the readings tonight – the end of the world, the end of time, the second coming of Christ when He will “judge the living and the dead”. It will also be the end of Purgatory. It will be just Heaven and Hell for all eternity.

If all of this talk about judgment gets us overly worried, it shouldn’t. If we’re living the life we’re supposed to live – if we’re living in Christ – then we have nothing to worry about. I want to offer two of the best ways to live in Christ and to be ready for judgment, but before I do that I want to let you know about a great little booklet on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. We have it in the Newman Center, but wanted to give you a chance to read it online. (Bloggers can read the article by clicking on today’s title). It will answer many of the questions you have about the next life.

The first way is Confession. Confession is a way for us to receive Grace, especially if we’ve left Grace through serious sin. I think one of the main reasons Jesus gave us Confession was to keep us out of Hell. The Catechism tells us that if we die in a state of mortal sin, we will go to Hell. Confession is mainly for the forgiveness of mortal sins. What is a mortal sin? It’s a sin that is seriously wrong, we know it’s wrong, and we freely choose to do it. For example, skipping Mass on a Sunday. If we freely choose to skip Mass, that is a mortal sin. We need to go to Confession and come back to God’s Grace, the Grace we need to get to Heaven. Even if we haven’t committed a mortal sin, it’s good to go regularly to Confession so that we grow in Grace… we grow in friendship with Grace…and, so that we live as we really want to live.

The more confessions I hear, the more I am convinced that people really don’t want to be doing the things they do in sin. It can happen easily in college where you start doing things you wouldn’t normally do ,and then months and years go by, and you wonder, ‘who am I?’ I have had many people get emotional in Confession because they realize this, and want to be who they really are…the person they are supposed to be.

Finally, the second way and probably the best way to always be ready for judgment: the Eucharist. Jesus promises us in John 6 that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have eternal life. That means we need to be here every Sunday and regularly receive the Eucharist. If we stay close to the Eucharist and Confession, if we regularly receive these sacraments, then we will live a life of Grace and always be ready for Judgment. It’s not just about being ready because living a life of Grace means that we experience Heaven on Earth…happiness on Earth. It also means that we will die in Christ’s Grace and be among the elect who will shine life the stars forever in the Kingdom of God.

1 comment:

CynthiaBC said...

My daughter is looking forward to the basketball game this Friday. She claims to be interested in basketball, but I suspect she’s mostly interested in the pizza. ;)

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had reason to think about being prepared for death. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in mid-October and was told that she likely would pass away within three months. Mom declined more rapidly than expected, and entered inpatient hospice two weeks ago. Most of the past week Mom seemed confused, and not aware of my sister’s or my presence. She passed away on Monday morning. Unfortunately, neither my sister nor I were with her because we didn’t think the end was THAT near, but we were assured that she seemed peaceful.

Mom had long since prepared for death – she had documents drawn up to put her possessions in a trust, and to give me medical and general powers of attorney so that I had the authority to make decisions about Mom’s care and manage her affairs once she was unable. Mom also had a living will, a document that backed up the discussions she’d had with my sister and me about the kind of end-of-life care she wanted. She even had already purchased a niche in a columbarium.

When Mom was given her prognosis, she said that she wasn’t afraid of “what comes next.” I’m not sure how ready she really was for death, but she did her best to take care of my sister and me, right until the very end. For that, I am grateful, and humbled.