Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Little Something Extra...Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Are You Ready?

As the end of the liturgical year approaches, the Church turns out attention to the end of time, to that day when Jesus will come back in glory to judge the living and the dead. 

Our First Reading, Malachi 3:19-20, presents a picture of what that day might look like:

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear My name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

The day will arrive with fire, light, and heat, which will affect people differently based on how they lived their lives. Those who have been proud and who have done evil during their lives will be consumed by fire and reduced to stubble. They will be cut off, with neither root or branch, isolated and diminished. 

Those who fear God's name, however, will be healed by the warm, enlightening rays of the “sun of justice.” What does it mean to fear God's name? This kind of fear is not a shivering fear that stands before a stern God. It is an awe-filled reverence that stands before the God Who is both transcendent and imminent, Who is more powerful than we can ever imagine and Who loves us more than we can ever imagine. This is the fear that does not shrink away from God but instead shrinks away from offending God by sin. 

Notice, too, that this fear is of God's “name.” In the Bible, a name is not merely a word that points to a particular individual. A name encompasses and identifies a person's entire being and character. So to fear God's name is to fear Who God is in Himself, His whole character, His honor, His glory, and His majesty.

Those who fear God's name will experience a type of fire, but for them it will be the “healing rays” of the “sun of justice.” These rays will shine down upon them, filling them with light and warmth and making them just. They will be right with God, completely perfect in His sight. Their human sin and shame will be burned away in the fire of God's love. 

How do we prepare for the day when Jesus returns, when fire will consume the earth? It could come at any time. No one knows the day or the hour. The answer is simple but not necessary easy to fulfill. 

1. We must make sure we are in a state of grace and go to confession if necessary. 
2. We must pray in order to nurture our relationship with God.
3. We must develop our consciences according to God's will and the Church's teaching so that we can make good moral choices. 
4. We must take full advantage of the sacraments, especially attending Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. 
5. We must love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and our whole strength, and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said that this encompasses the Law and the Prophets. It is what He expects, and it is what those who fear His name will be doing when He returns. 

Are you ready?

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