For us, this last week in the Church’s Year is not unlike New Year’s Eve. Next Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new lectionary cycle Year B, the Year of Mark. Throughout each Liturgical year we re-live, through scriptural ‘snapshots’, the long and arduous history of Salvation, recalling how, in spite of the sin of our First Parents, Adam and Eve, God did not renege on His side of things. Through first the Old Testament, then the New Testament, we hear how the Father promised His errant creatures a way back on the road to Heaven. He chose and called Abram (later Abraham, our Father in Faith) whose descendants, the Jews, were to keep alive, over centuries, the message of Salvation, worshipping and obeying only Him, the One True God. Through His Son Jesus, ‘…born of the Virgin Mary, He shared our human nature in all things but sin…’ (Eucharistic Prayer 4) the Father set mankind back ‘on course’. He provided them with the fullness of Truth through the Catholic (Universal) Church, the Priesthood, Mass and Sacraments, pointing clearly to Eternal Life.
The Responsorial Psalm (22: 1-3, 5-6) the ever familiar, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, which is commonly referred to as the 23rd psalm, again highlights the blessings of staying close to Christ Who will never abandon us, guiding, protecting and nourishing us, providing for us throughout our Earthly Life until we pass on to Eternity! The words, ‘…there is nothing I shall want…’ provide a good basis for an examination of conscience in an age when, certainly among the wealthy nations, ‘want’ and ‘lifestyle’ seem to be regularly confused with ‘need’!
Saint Paul, (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28), recalls Christ’s Resurrection, through which we were definitively given back the chance of Life after death with God in Heaven. He shows how, just as Adam and Eve 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 in the here and now we shall come to share, one day, in Christ’s Eternal Victory over evil.
Lest we grow complacent, due to the, sometimes, one-sided image presented of God’s Love, forgetting that Love is a two-way process, the Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46) gives us a 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 live with Him 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 expect 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 spiritual and material necessities of life. How well are we preparing for Eternity? How ready are we?!
'From sudden and unprovided death, Good Lord, Deliver us!'
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church