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1st Monday of Lent – Reflection on Matthew Ch. 25

March 3, 2012

Eschatology.  Quite literally means “last study;” the discourse on the end of days.  This is what the Lord is talking about here before leaving for Jerusalem  – the Judgment of the Nations.  So, why are we finding the end at the beginning of our Lent?

Because, as Father has been pointing out, Lent is a journey.  It is a journey of purification, preparation, submission, and – ultimately – justification with God.  Any journey towards something is a journey away from something.  In this case, our Lenten journey is one away from the sin in our life, and towards a sanctified life; away from Hell, and towards Heaven.  Simple, right?  We know we don’t want to end up in Hell.  Hell is eternal separation from God, reserved for those who at the end of earthly life refuse to accept God as their shepherd.  Sounds like most of us don’t want that, so how do we accept God as our shepherd?  How do we follow the path towards Heaven?  Where can we get directions for our GPS?  In today’s Gospel.

So here the Jesus lays out a roadmap.  As in a parable, he lays out the obvious: the Son of Man will come at the end and the righteous will be separated from the wicked, as sheep from goats.  Heaven for the right, and for the accursed on the left – eternal fire.  But then, it’s not a parable.

Jesus explains – and it bears repeating, “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, imprisoned and you visited.”  Our Lord is setting up the corporal works of mercy, the heart of being Christian.

For whom? Why?  This is not a guide for the disciples to follow him to the Father.  This is a guide for them to teach.  To teach all nations.  This is a hint of our great Commission.  In Matthew 28:19, we know the disciples are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  Using these works of mercy as the way to the Father.  Remember how the disciples were indoctrinated early in the Gospel, Matthew 10:40 – “Whoever receives you receives me, and who ever receives me receives the one who sent me.”  As Jesus fulfills the law, the formula is rooted in the first reading, as the Father told Moses: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord” (Lv 19:18).  Yesterday, at a full cathedral, some fifty St. Henry parishioners – catachumen, candidates, sponsors, and catechists – took part in the Rite of Election, giving witness to our living, growing faith.  Take heart.  We are receiving reinforcements.

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