Archive for category Final Judgement

Mt 13:44-52 Treasures New and Old

 The Parable of the Net has close similiarity with the two earlier parables, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Weed.

The Parable of the Net is closely similar to the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the sense that it describes the Kingdom of God as universal in scope and in nature. Hence, based on these two parables, the Kingdom of God here on earth is intended to accept men and women of all generations and of all nations and that include both the wicked and the righteous, the saint and the sinner, the good and the bad. In connection with this what is the challenge for us? To adopt an open, non discriminating and non judgmental and freewheeling approach to evangelization. A major problem which we will be encountering with this approach however would be: both the undesirables and desirables will enter and mixed in the Church. Some undesirables will be converted…Some undesirables who seemed promising in the beginning will betray God in the end. God does not make us responsible for this. But let us always be reminded to withold our judgment for judgment belongs, not to the disciples, but to God. This parable, however, is not a call to overlook grievous sin.  A few chapters hence, Jesus will establish procedures for reproving sinners and for excommunicating them if they fail to mend their ways (Mt 18:15-20).

The Parable of the Net is closely similar to the Parable of the Weed in the sense that these parable recognize the fact that the the Kingdom of God here on earth is composed of both sinners and saints. We cannot perfectly separate the two and eliminate the oter while the Kingdom of God is still on earth. Otherwise we will destroy the good together with the bad. We will uproot the weed while uprooting the weed whose roots were already entwined with the wheat. But when the day of the Final Judgment comes, the good and the bad will be totally and perfectly separated like what the fishermen did in the Parable. After having scooped up all sorts fish, both the good and bad the fishermen sorted their catch and discarded the unwanted or the usable fish.

Whether we like it or not the day of the final judgment will come. Matthew never tires in warning his readers of the reality of judgment and hence the importance of genuine discipleship.  It is a warning that both the world and the Church need” (Hagner).When that day comes the good and bad will finally and perfectly be separated. The wicked goes directly to hell to be punished eternally while the righteous will be rewarded in heaven and they “will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Mt 13:43).

“Mention of the final judgment reminds the hearers and readers of the parables that discipleship is not a game of ‘let’s pretend’; it is a matter of life and death” (Brueggemann, 424). The reality of the final judgment once again remind us that following Jesus is not a game of “let’s pretend.,” it is a matter of life and death, it is a matter of salvation and damnation, it is a matter of happiness and misery. Choose life and lasting happiness with God and with our loved ones in heaven.

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Mt 13:24-43 The Parables of the Weeds among the Wheat

Parables are comparisons in which spiritual truth is pictured in vivid terms (Blomberg 1990). In the story Jesus used the parable to explain the wise ways of the Kingdom of God concerning the mystery and problem of evil not only in the world but even in the Church which is the seed and the beginning of the Kingdom of God here on earth that will be fully and perfectly established in heaven.

The parable Jesus used is popularly known as the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat.The type of weed referred to here is commonly recognized as the darnel (Greek zizania) which is troublesome poisonous plant in the grainfields, closely resembling the wheat in the first stages of its growth. By the time the grain appears and the difference becomes obvious, the roots of the weeds are entwined with those of the wheat. Thus uprooting the weeds would simultaneously cause uprooting of the wheat.

This parable reflects the wise ways of God’s kingdom (which already starts with the Church) concerning the problem of evil even among the believers. It is unwise to get rid of unworthy members which may have the unhappy consequence of driving out also some of the worthiest. Therefore, weeds and wheat must be allowed to grow together for the time being. The task of separating the evil from the good must be reserved for the last judgment.

The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat teaches us several lessons:

  • First, there will always hostile power in the world (Satan, the world, concupiscence or evil inclination) seeking and waiting to destroy the good seeds that represent the children of the Kingdom who received with joy the word of God that will eventually bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization in their lives. Hence, this is an admonition to all the Children of God to be forever on their guard. This vigilance should be continuous and unflagging, because the devil is forever after us, prowling around “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, and watch with good works” (cf. Augustine, “Sermon”, 93).
  • Second, the world including the Church is composed of both saints and sinners, good and evil. The world is a mixture of the children of God and the children of Satan. And how hard it is to distinguish between the good and evil, the saints and the sinners. Someone may appear to be good and may in fact bad; and someone may appear to bad and may in fact be good. Some call good evil and evil good. Sometimes people change too according to opportunities and graces. Hence, let us not too quick to condemn, to classify people and label them good or bad without knowing all the facts. Remember our human judgment is as good as our information, Limited information make us prone to error and mistakes in making judgment.
  • Third, in the end there comes the judgment of a just and all-knowing God. A God who will never deceive us nor can be deceived by us. He alone has the right to judge. He alone can discern the good and the bad. He alone can rightly administer the ultimate justice for humankind which seems to be impossible in the world governs by the law, judgment and wisdom of man. This is a warning to the evil doers who seem to be rewarded in life in this world and a consolation to the righteous who seem to be punished in life in this world.

In summary, Jesus calls us to patience and faith — patience with those who fail to meet the standard (this is the concern of the parable itself — vv. 24-30) and faith that God will deal with them at the right time (this is the concern of the interpretation — vv. 36-43).  Jesus calls us to withhold action lest we create more problems than we solve — lest we destroy the good with the bad — lest we “uproot the wheat along with (the weeds).”

Think about this! “First, do not fret over evildoers, for neither their present nor their future is your responsibility; and second, God will bring history to a close with justice, and the saints finally will be freed from abuse and oppression.  The parable…is therefore not a threatening but a comforting word” (Craddock, 372).

 

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Lk 17:26-37 The Day of the Son of Man

“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Lk 17:27-28)

These words of our Lord are a prophecy about the last coming of the Son of Man.  We should remember that prophecy often involves events on different levels, many symbols, a terminology of its own; it gives us insight into future events, but the concrete details only become clear when the events actually occur. Our Lord’s last coming will be something sudden and unexpected; it will catch many people unprepared.  Jesus illustrates this by giving examples from sacred history: as in the time of Noah (cf. Genesis 6:9-19:7) and that of Lot (cf. Genesis 18:16-19:27) divine judgment will be visited on men without warning.

However, it is useful to recall here that everyone will find himself before the divine Judge immediately when he dies, at the Particular Judgment.  Thus Jesus’ teaching has also a present urgency about it: here and now a disciple should scrutinize his own conduct, for the Lord can call him when he least expects.

If you knew that an impending disaster, such as a flood or hurricaine, was about to destroy your home and threaten your life, wouldn’t you make preparation to escape and find refuge in a safe place? Jesus warned his followers to avert spirtual disaster and to not be caught off-guard when the “day of judgment” would strike the earth and its inhabitants. The “Day of the Lord” was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his power and glory, and overthrow his enemies. Isaiah describes it as a day when God will bring down the proud and the arrogant who flaunt his law (Isaiah 2:11). That day will be darkness, gloom, disaster, and desolation for the earth when “God will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:6-11). The prophet Amos declared that the “Day” meant judgment for the house of Israel as well, and not just the other nations who followed other gods (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this “Day” those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of God, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).

 Jesus compares the separation of the good from the evil on the Day of judgement at the end of the age with the judgment and separation that took place in the days of Noah, when God saw that the inhabitants of the world had been filled with every imaginable evil (Genesis 6:5), with corruption and violence spreading everywhere (Genesis 6:11-13). In Noah’s day, God swept away in the great flood all who chose the way of evil rather than good. God intended to start over again with a people who would choose to do good by obeying him. Noah and his family alone were spared this punishment because they remained faithful to God. They heeded his warning to build an ark to escape the destructive force of the impending flood. [See the book of Genesis, chapters 6-8, for the account of Noah’s ark and the great flood.] Noah’s ark has stood as a beacon of hope to all who would seek refuge in God and follow in his way of justice and holiness.

God promised Abraham, “I will  not destroy Sodom if there are ten good people in it. But ten good people could not be found” (Genesis 18:32 ). The Lord rained burning sulfur  on the sin cities of Sodom and Gommorah and destroyed them. Abraham saw smoke rising from  the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. (see Genesis 19:24-25, 28)

Some biblical scholars believe that an earthquake (common to the area) touched off the fiery holocaust.  Words like “burning sulfur” and “smoke “suggest that coal and petroleum deposits (still found in the area) exploded during the earthquake, igniting the infernal described. Regardless of how it happened, the point is clear: Sodom and Gommorah met with a terrible fate that was interpretted as God’s judgment upon the two cities.

What point does the story of Sodom and Gommorah make?  “I shall tell you a secret, my friend. Don’t wait for the last judgment;  it is taking place every day” (Albert Camus).

Jesus makes clear to his disciples that the Father has given him all authority to execute judgments on the earth “because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The “Son of man” is a Messianic title for God’s anointed one who will destroy God’s enemies and establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace. The “Day of the Lord” points to the final judgment of all the living as well as all the dead who dwelt upon the earth. The “Son of man” is the one who is given supreme authority to judge and execute justice on the earth. Jesus comes the first time to lay down his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. He promises to return again at the “end of the age”  as King and Judge both of the living and the dead. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both Christians and non-believers as well.

So be ready. Be prepared. Be watchful.

Watch your THOUGHTS; They become WORDS.
Watch your WORDS; They become ACTIONS.
Watch your ACTIONS; They become HABITS.
Watch your HABITS; They become CHARACTER.
Watch your CHARACTER; It becomes your DESTINY.

                                                                  – Frank Outlaw

Prayer:   “Lord Jesus Christ, I place all my hope in you because you have redeemed the world by your death on the cross and by your victory over the grave. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven that I may live each day in joyful anticipation of your return in glory.”

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Mt 25:31-46 The Judgment of the Nations

 Solemnity of Christ the King – Year A
Ez 34:11-12,15-17; 1Cor 15:20-26, 28; Matt 25:31-46

We call Fernando Poe, Jr. as king of Philippine movies or Miss Gloria Romero as queen of the Philippine movies. We have also princes and princesses of Philippine action movies. We call Sharon CuÑeta as megastar or Maricel Soriano as diamond star or Vilma Santos as star of all seasons and Nora as Superstar.

We call too Inday Badiday as queen of intrigues but I don’t know if there is also king of intrigues. Christy Fermin as somebody says that she’s queen of gossip. But I don’t know if there is king of gossip. How about Jesus Christ? We call Him as King of all nations and today we dedicate this last Sunday of liturgical calendar of the church for this title. Next Sunday we will enter into the season of Advent.

The gospel that is being used is one of the most vivid parables Jesus eve spoke and the lesson is crystal clear that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment will not depend on the knowledge we have amassed or the fame we have acquired or the fortune we have gained or the success we have achieved but on the help and love that we have given for our neighbor.

This parable teaches us three things about that we must give to the three Ls (the Lost, the Least and the Last) of our society.

First, it must be help in simple things. Giving food to those who are in hungry is simple and very easy. Giving a glass of water to those who are thirsty is very simple and easy too. Everybody can do it. Or giving a bed to those who have none or visiting the sick and the prisoners are very simple and easy which everybody can do everyday. These deeds do not need our names to be written in a replica or to be published in a newspaper or to be flashed in the projector of the church so that others may see and read.

Second, it must be help which is uncalculating. Those who help did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit. They helped because they could not stop themselves in helping. They help not because they run for public office or so that they may vote for them. They helped because it was natural and instinctive for them to help. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was: “if we have known it was you we would gladly have to help, but we thought it was only common tao (person) who was not worth helping.”

I, myself, I am a victim of this. We back in 1988 when I was in my Spiritual Pastoral Formation Year (SPFY) in Cagayan de Oro City, we have had a one-month hospital exposure where we worked as janitors of the hospital. Some of the doctors and nurses knew that we were seminarians. It happened that I entered the room of a patient belonging to a middle class family in order to clean the room. The patient was sleeping. The mother of the patient got angry with me because I entered the room and I’m disturbing the patient in her sleeping. I reasoned out that it was the time for us to clean the room and I don’t know that she was sleeping but she did not listen. She continued talking and so I went out from the room without cleaning the room too.

Afterwards, she asked one of the janitors about me. The janitor told the lady that I am a seminarian. The following day when I entered the room, the lady was so accommodating and even gave me snack and invited me to have a lunch. She told me: “ I was thinking yesterday that you are just a mere janitor in this hospital that is why I shouted you yesterday and got angry with you. If you have just told me that you are a seminarian, then, I would not do it for you.”

“So, that’s the way you treat ordinary people like janitors?” I told her but she did not answer.

Up to this day, there are those who help because they are given praise, thanks and publicity and in that sense they have already received their rewards. But help like this is not help at all but in order to expand his or her self-esteem. I rather prefer and appreciate those who do not want their names to be published but just considering themselves as anonymous donors because in that sense there is a fulfillment and meaning in life.

Third, all such help given is given to him and such help withheld is withheld from him. Just like St. Francis of Assisi. He was a wealthy man, high-born and high-spirited but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved St. Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer and in his arms the face of the leper changed into the face of Christ.

May be today we could experience what St. Francis had experienced but there are so many instances that Christ is very much present. What they? You may discover them in others and our conscience will tell us.

Fr. Joseph Benetiz
http://justmehomely.wordpress.com

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Reflection:

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine. It is said that heaven’s gate will be guarded not by Peter but by the poor who will let in only those they recognize who have helped them. There the question will no longer be what we believe in, what we have accomplished, or what we are bringing in. There and then, the question will be simpler: What have you done for these least of my brothers? And it will not be a question only of actions. We may have done charity, we may have donated much, and we may have given our time. But where was our heart? How did we live our life? Was care and concern our language?

It is also said that only two things will be asked at the end of life: First, did you find joy in your life? Second, was your life a joy to others?

Visit an orphanage with your family this Sunday 

http://graceandspace.org/welcome/home/365-days-with-the-lord/1166-the-judgment-of-the-nations.html

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Lk 16:19-31 The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

There is a popular misunderstanding about money or riches as the source of all evils. Because of this we tend to believe that the rich is bad and the poor is good. The rich is cursed and the poor is blessed. The rich is destined to hell while the poor to heaven. Hence, at all costs and by all means, money or wealth is to be avoided and stay economically poor and miserable as much as possible.

This appears to be a good news,  a consolation and hope to the poor. But this is not what the Gospel‘s parable teaches us today. Money in itself is not evil and does not make us evil. Rather it is the love of money that is the source of all evils. It is our selfishness, insensitivity, and inhumanity that are the sources of evil and make us bad. It is our being unfaithful, irresponsible and unfruitful stewards and failure to be “merciful just as our Father is merciful” (see Lk 6:36) that make us undeserving to receive the eternal life and happiness in heaven promised by God those who love Him and his people.

The moral lesson is this. Any person  (or rich) who distances himself  from the poor (Lazarus) in this life he will find himself in great torment and in a far distance from the poor who at the side of Abraham enjoying eternal bliss in the next life. And he will be prevented from joining them by great chasm made permanent by God. It is not God who condemns us to hell; it is we who condemn ourselves through a life of selfishness, insensitivity and inhumanity to the poor around us.

The parables asks : Will the five brothers, the readers as well the listeners follow the example of the rich man or heed Jesus’ teaching and that of the OT about care of the needy like Lazarus and thus be children of Abraham. If the brothers, the readers and the listeners do not follow that teaching, they will not have a place at the messianic banquet. Mere words do not make one a child of Abraham and therefore a member of reconstituted Israel. (see JBC 43:151:27) “Dives’ claim that Abraham is his father is of no effect, for he has not produced the deeds of loving kindness that would have signified repentance from his self-centered callous way of life (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, NTS 25 [1978-79] 338).

“My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter” (Phil 1:9-10).

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