November 25, 2017 – – Saturday in the 33rd Week of the Church Year
Saint for the day: Catherine of Alexandria (Died 310)
1st Maccabees 6:1-13 – Psalm 9 – Luke 20:27-40
In these last days of the Churchs’ Liturgical year the Scriptures bring us face to face with the reality of death – and Eternal Life. In the reading from Maccabees King Antiocus is troubled by reflecting on his life of pillage and war, and thinks, “this is why I am suffering so: that I had done evil in my life.” The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” certainly applies here. And all of us, hearing these readings must realize that we will all be called to account for our actions in our lives as we make the final transition from life to life after death.
With the reality of ultimate death in our minds we begin to try and grasp what “life eternal” really means. Jesus tells the S & Ps that there is no marriage in Heaven and St. John says, “life is not ended but changed.” So, sitting here in the darkness of our little chapel I attempt to find some little edge of understanding to “the meaning of Eternal life.” I remember when I was in second grade and told that at the last judgment we would all stand before God “naked and everything about our lives would be made known.” As a seven year old, what was I most worried about? As silly as this seems, I was most worried that people would find out that I sometimes had “skid marks” in my underwear and I would be humiliated in front of everybody! Little did I know at that time, that there would be much more serious issues that would be brought up at that “last judgment.”
The reality, though, is that the words of Jesus in the “Whatsoever you do” parable will be the scene: “When did we see you hungry and not feed you; naked and not clothe you; homeless and not shelter you?” These words, along with Paul’s list of “fruits of the HS” will be the measure with which we are judged. Am I loving? Gentle? Peaceful? Long suffering? Etc., etc., and so forth. This is what we should be working on right now. There’s no time to waste: “we do not know the hour when the ‘master’ will return. Have we kept our lamps burning brightly?
On this theme, I fall back on CS Lewis’ concept of Heaven in his book: “The Great Divorce,” and our ultimate passage into “deep heaven.” He contends that – even though we will be out of time and space – there is some kind of transition that takes place between our last breath and our full entrance into “deep Heaven.” He eludes to the fact that, even at the farthest edges of Heaven we are still able to make decisions about continuing our journey. There is no mention of “God getting us for this or that” only the overwhelming possibility that eventually, “we will see Him as he really is” or – if we decide that it’s too much trouble to wait while angels come to guide us – we will find ourselves slipping back into a “hell” that has always been the way we were living our lives.
No mention of dirty underwear; no questions about liturgical practices; no lists of laws that we might have broken; just the presence of angels who help us get over the unbelievable reality of the edge of Heaven as we gradually become more and more used to the possibility that we will see Him face to face. That’s about all I can say about this right now. Amen!