As the year comes to an end,
we are reminded the world won’t last forever—
it, too, will have an end.
When he chooses, Jesus will come again;
the dead will rise from their graves,
and all will face Judgment.
In that moment of total clarity,
we will face either heaven, or hell.
The idea of the world
coming to an end is frightening.
But our world has lived over 60 years
in the shadow of atomic weapons;
most of us grew up knowing that
two nations’ leaders could—in minutes—
fire thousands of missiles,
and wipe away everything we know.
That peril has receded, thank God,
but new threats have taken their place.
So it isn’t Scripture that frightens us, but our world!
We know about “tribulation” and “great distress”;
the part we need to hear is,
"They will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds'…
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect.”
I said a moment ago
that each us will leave this world,
and we will stand before Jesus Christ.
We will be judged;
and we will enter heaven or hell.
And if that frightens us, may I ask why?
Realize that every one of us,
has the opportunity to be full of hope,
at the coming of Jesus Christ.
This is a paradox, but:
some of those who ought to be frightened,
are those who aren’t frightened at all.
See how that works?
The Lord is calling us to conversion,
so we can “shine brightly…like the stars forever”!
We do that by being people of justice.
Heaven is a place of perfect justice;
and this life is our training-ground,
where we learn to be happy as people of justice.
What is this justice?
It includes remembering the poor,
lifting up the oppressed, defending those in peril.
It requires being as generous in forgiving others,
as God has been generous in forgiving us.
Justice requires room:
we welcome new life, generously, in our families;
as a society, we ought to have room
for the tiny ones at the beginning of life,
and to care for people until they breathe their last.
Room for the disabled, for immigrants and strangers;
for those who have done terrible wrong;
room for absolutely everyone.
Remember, Heaven has plenty of room.
But there will be room for us,
only if we make room, now, for others!
Heaven’s standard is perfection—that’s tough!
That’s why we need Jesus Christ;
that’s why we need his Holy Spirit, every day.
The second reading speaks of the One
who offers a Sacrifice that takes away all sin.
That One is Jesus Christ—
and his Offering is his Cross,
which is also this Mass.
They are one and the same.
If our hearts tell us
we aren’t yet people of true justice;
that we aren’t yet ready for heaven,
that’s the Holy Spirit
calling us to conversion, now,
so we can have a peaceful death,
whenever it comes,
and face God’s Judgment with hope, not dread.
That’s what He wants!
God wants hell empty and heaven full!
It is our deafness, our self-will,
our messed-up priorities, that get in the way.
But there is a Sacrifice that takes away sin;
the Blood of the Sacrifice washes us in Baptism.
In confession, his Blood makes us clean again;
and His Blood is our life-giving food in the Eucharist!
Why should we be afraid?