I want to call your attention to the first reading.
Did you notice the two ways it talks about fire?
For the "proud" and "evil doers," it is fire that punishes;
it "consumes" them.
What does that sound like? It sounds like hell to me.
But for those who fear God's Name?
It is a sun of righteousness with "healing rays."
Healing? What does that sound like? Sounds like purgatory to me.
And I’m going to come back in a moment to say more about purgatory.
Yet it is all the same fire; the fire of God's truth and love.
Think about that. God is the same. God’s truth is God’s truth.
I’m not saying there’s no complexity in life.
But I am saying that just as there is not more than one God,
God’s truth, God’s justice, is ultimately one.
Moreover, God is good to all.
God is not smiley to this one, but frowny to that one.
God IS Love, as the Apostle John teaches;
he does not run hot and cold the way we human beings do.
So yes, his mercy is readily available, right up to the last moment:
as with St. Dismas, the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus.
Yet, on the other side was another thief, who refused mercy.
What was different? Same Jesus; same mercy;
same frightful peril for the two thieves.
All the difference is in the human response.
Beware the sin of presumption!
People think, "Oh, I can straighten things out with God later.”
That assumes two things: that there will be “later”;
and that you won’t keep delaying, right until your last breath.
The fire consumes the evil doers because they were proud;
they refused to ask.
And is it not a kind of pride that says, “I’m good enough?”
Whether it’s preparing something for guests,
Or getting dressed up for a special event,
Or it’s something organized in our church,
People will say, “oh, that’s a bit much!
This” – whatever it is – “is ‘good enough.’”
Let me tell you a story.
Some years back, I took a mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico,
which is on the Pacific coast, way south in the country.
Our group was welcomed by the people of a small village;
They were very poor.
For lunch we had chicken soup. We had visited several places;
This was the simplest of the meals.
Our Mexican host confirmed – that was a sacrifice for those folks;
they had to kill several valuable chickens.
It was simple; it was delicious – but above all, it was a true sacrifice.
Now: the sacrifice God asks of us isn’t money or stuff,
although how we use these things either pleases him or offends him.
But he, himself, has zero use for any of that.
In fact, God needs nothing – at all.
What he asks, however, is that each of us
Offer the sacrifice of our own lives.
And with that offering, there is none of this saying,
“oh, margarine is good enough”; “paper napkins are good enough”;
“just this much of my life, my heart -- that’s enough”!
That is pride, that holding back.
In one sense, of course, nothing you and I can offer is “good enough.”
In another sense, it is only when we are give ALL,
that it is capable of being “enough.”
Either we’re all in; or not at all.
Now, back to purgatory.
No one gets to purgatory whose heart is hardened.
Purgatory is what happens when the sacrifice is offered,
the surrender of our own will and lives, holding nothing back.
But instead of the sacrifice of ourselves being destroyed,
we are, rather, made perfect and beautiful.
You and I become saints.
In the Gospel, there’s all this buzz and fret,
“What’s going to happen? What’s going on the world? Why is everything all a mess?”
And folks are frantic about the details and the meaning.
And Jesus says, forget all that! You don’t need to worry about that.
It’s pride that says, I want to know the whole plan;
I want to know the day and the hour: Fill me in, Jesus!
No! You don’t even need to worry about what you’ll say.
Jesus says: offer yourself – then God takes over.
And for those who do that: healing rays from the Son of Justice!
At Mass the Son of Justice offers himself.
In Holy Communion, he shares that offering;
To receive Holy Communion is an act that means,
No pride here, no holding back here, I’m all in – I’m ALL in.
And if I’m not ready for that: if I haven’t figured out what I believe,
if I’ve sinned in a grave way, then there’s a need to reflect,
and be ready for that “all in” with confession and conversion.
The most important thing that happens at Mass is Jesus’ all-in.
The second most important thing is our own.
Another excellent homily, Fr Fox.
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