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Behold, Now is a Very Acceptable Time

February 23, 2015

Eschatology.  Quite literally means “last study;” the discourse on the parausia – the “personal presence of Christ returned” – 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?  Well, ‘behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation’ (2 Cor 6:2b).

Because, Lent is a journey.  It is a journey of preparation, submission, purification, and – ultimately – justification with God.  Forgiveness.  And 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 don’t know all the details, but we are relatively certain that 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, but how do we accept God as our shepherd?  How do we follow the path towards Heaven?  Where can we get directions for our GPS?  It’s all 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.

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.

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.”  Man will be judged entirely on his behavior toward his fellow man.  Our Lord is setting up the corporal works of mercy, the very 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 Mark 16:15-16, we know the disciples are to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Using these works of mercy as the way to the Father, we imitate Jesus and fulfill the law.  The formula for it all 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).  It is love that determines whether men are good or if they are bad.  It is our ability to love – actively, like Christ – that will earn our forgiveness. There is no substitute for loving as we have been taught.





Monday, February 23, 2015; First Monday of Lent

Leviticus 19: 1-2, 11-18.  Judge your fellow man justly.

Responsorial Psalm John6: 63b – R.  Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Matthew 25:31-46.  Whatever you have done to the very least of my brothers, you have done to me.

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