For Catholics this day is a liturgical ‘New Year’s Eve’. Once again we have reached the end of the Liturgical Year and, next Sunday, we begin the Season of Advent. Throughout the space of a year we will re-live the history of Salvation; we will recall how, in spite of the sin of our First Parents, Adam and Eve, God did not, on His part, renege on His side of things.
Through the Scriptures we will hear of how God promised a way back, chose and prepared His people, the Jews then, through His Son, gave them the means, i.e. the Catholic Church, the Priesthood, Mass and Sacraments, which gave them, once again, the chance of getting to Heaven, so giving life a purpose beyond the grave.
Sunday’s readings bring out the image of the tender, self-giving Love of God with references to shepherds, underlining God’s unstinting care for His often straying flock. The Prophet Ezekiel shows how, as the Good Shepherd, God seeks out and (should they be willing) brings back the sheep which have strayed into dangerous territory. Once safely back in the sheepfold, there is healing of injuries, food, and security from predators.
The Psalm is the familiar, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, again portraying clearly the real benefits of staying close to Christ; He will never abandon us!
Saint Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recalls Christ’s Resurrection through which we were, once again, given the chance of Life after death with God in Heaven. He shows how, just as a Human Being lost the way to heaven for us, so, in taking flesh as a Human Being, living in perfection, Dying and Rising from the dead, Christ put Mankind back on track; by faithfully co-operating with Grace we will share, one day, in Christ’s final victory over evil.
Lest we grow complacent, through a one-sided image of God’s Love for us, forgetting that Love is a two-way process, the Gospel gives us a vital and salutary warning that, for each and every one of us, life will come to an end; Christ will judge us and, if we are to share in the final Victory, in Eternal Happiness, we must have, during our lives, done what we can to exercise the virtue of Charity towards our fellow Human beings, many of whom do not have the Spiritual and material advantages that we so often take for granted. It is made abundantly clear that, if we are to receive a welcome in Heaven, we must, here and now, have extended help either directly or indirectly, to those around us who lack the material and Spiritual necessities of life. How well are we preparing for Eternity?
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church