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Are You Ready? – part II

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Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO VERSION OF THIS SUNDAY HOMILY FROM THE 10 AM MASS

Another liturgical year will come to an end with next Sunday’s celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King.  As the liturgical year ends, it is interesting to note how the flow of the Catholic liturgy focuses on the theme of the Second Coming.

The eschatological teachings of Jesus are very clear throughout the Gospels.  We pronounce our certainty of eternal life each time we pray together the Profession of Faith. “…I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Judgment (particular and universal), Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, The Second Coming and the hope of a new Heaven and a new earth are the components of this fundamental teaching of Christianity.

Someday, yet unknown to us, this life will come to an end and God will judge us according to our deeds.

“Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

We need to be ready.

This is the theme of the Catholic liturgy as we approach the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King.

This Sunday’s gospel narrative illustrates that we need to use and develop the gifts that God gives to us.  We will be judged on how well we accomplish this task.

“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – each according to his ability.  Then he went away” (Matthew 25: 14-15).

The talents in today’s gospel narrative refers to quantities of gold or silver that were given to three different people.  A talent was an ancient unit of measurement for gold and silver.

Practically applied to every day life, God trusts us and he gives us talents or gifts according to our abilities.

Although everyone has a different amount of gifts, everyone is called to develop their gifts no matter how many or few they may be.

When we use and develop the gifts that God gives us, he increases the gifts and calls us to higher tasks.

“Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities” (Matthew 25: 21).

My dear friends, let us remember that sloth, a capital sin, is totally incompatible with Christianity.  Sloth is what happens when we bury our talents in the ground.

Sloth is a disease of the will.

What happens to the individual ruled by sloth?

People controlled by sloth do not get anything accomplished.   People controlled by sloth are targets for every temptation that the devil has to offer.  They just lie there on the ground like cow manure covered with flies.

Flies can’t stick to something that is moving fast.

And people ruled by sloth have a real hard time getting into heaven.  They are too lazy to live out the demands of the Gospel.

If sloth is a problem for you, what can you do to get rid of it?

First of all, you have to have purpose in life.  Once you figured out your purpose in life, you can fulfill the duties that are part of your state in life.

Are you single?  Are you married?  Are you consecrated to God?  Your state in life carries with it certain duties and obligations.  Fulfill those duties with maturity, coherence, authenticity and perfection.

Secondly, you need to have a strong will.  Remember that sloth has been defined as a disease of the will.  So, it is going to be important to form your will by making it strong.  Make your bed with perfection every morning; polish your shoes; dress correctly; be punctual for church and your daily appointments; and keep your room neat and tidy.

A sturdy and consistent spiritual life is essential.  We have to stay connected to the Lord.  He will give us strength and fill us with peace.  The regular use of the Sacrament of Confession is essential.  We need to stay spiritually alive.  And when it comes to sin, we all get bent out of shape about the bad things that we do, but how many of us are concerned about the good things that we don’t do because of laziness, tepidity and apathy?

As we continue to reflect upon the reality of the Second Coming of Jesus, let us keep in mind that this dimension of the eschatological teachings of Jesus does not permit us to be less concerned about our temporal duties.

Moreover, the trials of our times do not excuse anyone to simply give up and retreat as if the Second Coming were imminent.

“Therefore, while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself, the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, 39).

Sit down with a sheet of paper and a pen.  Make a list of all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to you, thank him for these gifts and get to work.

There is much to be done for the Kingdom!

The certainty of the Lord’s return in glory and the challenges of the current time of trial must instill in us a renewed missionary spirit.  It is not permissible for anyone to retreat because of fear. All of us are called to be busy in the vineyard.

There is no doubt that we live in a period of history that is difficult indeed.  The suffering that has been unleashed upon humanity can be overwhelming.  Nevertheless, it is imperative that we always keep in mind that history has seen many moments of trial and tribulation.

On May 19th, 1780 in Hartford, Connecticut, the sky darkened significantly, and some of the members of the State House of Representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand.

Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the House, rose and said, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought in to the chamber.”

As we consider the Second Coming of Jesus, I would like to suggest the same program of life that I have been preaching about throughout my almost thirty years of Catholic priesthood:

Pray – every Catholic needs a daily, mature and well-disciplined spiritual life.

Action – be a living member of the Catholic Church.

Focus –  focus your apostolic activity.  Focus on your family, focus on your parish and focus on your local community.

Is it better to curse the darkness or to light one candle?

My dear friends, our consideration of the Second Coming of Jesus should fill us with a renewed sense of hope and it should instill in us an even greater urgency to be committed apostles of Jesus Christ.

“But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.  For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.  We are not of the night or of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 4: 4-6).