Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Four Last Things (Sunday homily)

Sorry for the delay in reporting on my homily. I was traveling most of last week, so I didn't really have much time to write out my homily. Then, Sunday afternoon, I drove over to Columbus to take our parish seminarians out to dinner; so I didn't take time to write a post Sunday or Monday.

All I can do at this point is summarize my homily:

- I explained what the "four last things are": death, judgment, heaven and hell, and why they are associated with this time of year (the end of the liturgical year; moving from fall to winter in northern hemisphere, the readings).

- We all die; but we often imagine death is far away. Referring to my recent travel, I said that being in an airplane -- a tube of metal, 30,000 feet high, with nothing but air beneath me -- has a way of making death a little more real. I described my own practice of an act of contrition and the St. Michael prayer on take-off, and a Glory Be and Hail Mary on a safe landing; and lots more prayers if we hit a rough patch! And, I said that being on a plane, knowing I wasn't in a state of grace, isn't fun. Better to go to confession!

- I talked about Father Tom Grilliot, who in his last several years, spoke candidly about his mortality because of his cancer. It's important to talk about death, not avoid talking about it.

- There are two judgments: our particular judgment when we die, and the general judgment when Jesus brings things to a close. We are judged on our faith and works; but we can't do works to make up for lack of faith. No one can impress God with his or her good deeds. Faith -- love of God -- is necessary; but works must follow. As Saint James said, faith without works is dead. We also have a choice: we can be judged strictly or with mercy: recall Jesus said, by the measure you measure, so shall it be measured out to you. If we are harsh, the standard applied to us will be as well.

- I talked a bit about both heaven and hell. We can't expect to enter heaven without friendship with God; because, what would we do in heaven if we don't want to be with God? It would be like being in a Baskin Robbins store for eternity, but not liking ice cream.

- I talked more about the resurrection, which comes at the Last Day. We get our bodies back, yet new and improved. Our bodies aren't shells; we don't wear them, and then discard them. We are body-spirit; that's how God created us and that wholeness will be restored. This has implications. First, that our bodies matter, and what we do in the body matters. Second, Creation matters. I mentioned Laudato Si in reference to respect for creation as reflecting God's glory.

- I cited something St. Augustine said (although I rephrased it): if we are friends with God, why are we afraid to meet him?

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