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JESUS CHRIST’S WORK OF MERCY HAS TWO PARTS

JESUS CHRIST’S WORK OF MERCY HAS TWO PARTS

Christ’s work of mercy has two chief parts: what he did for all men, what he does for each; what he did once for all, what he does for one by one continually; what he did externally to us, what he does within us; what he did on earth, what he does in heaven; what he did in his own person, what he does by his Spirit; his death, and the water and blood after it; his meritorious sufferings, and the various gifts thereby purchased, of pardon, grace, reconciliation, renewal, holiness, spiritual communion; that is, his atonement, and the application of his atonement, or his atonement and our justification; he atones by the offering of himself on the cross; and as certainly (which is the point before us) he justifies by the mission of his Spirit.

– St John Henry Newman; Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification. (Jfc., 203-4)

 

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THERE WAS BUT ONE ATONEMENT; THERE ARE TEN THOUSAND JUSTIFICATIONS

And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. (Lk 22:19)

“As in God’s counsels it was necessary for the atonement that there should be a material, local, sacrifice of the Son once and for all: so for our individual justification, there must be a spiritual, ubiquitous communication of that sacrifice continually. There was but one atonement; there are ten thousand justifications…

His rising again was the necessary condition of his applying to his elect the virtue of that atonement which his dying wrought for all men. Thus he died to purchase what he rose again to apply.”

Bl. John Henry Newman; The Son of God redeems us, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. Jfc., 205-6

 

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“RENDER TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S” (MT 22:17-21) – ON MAN’S IMAGE WHICH WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF THE TRINITY

Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? She’s me the coin of tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They said to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.

” On the threefold image of God: ‘Show me the coin of tribute’

Note that the image is threefold: of likeness, of creation (in which man is created, namely reason), and of restoration, by which the created image is restored, namely the grace of God which is infused into the mind to be renewed.

The image of likeness is that according to which man was made in the image and likeness of the whole Trinity.

By memory he is like the Father, by understanding like the Son, by love like the Holy Spirit.

So St Augustine says, ‘Let me remember you, understand you, and love you.’

Man was made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27): his image in the understanding of truth, his likeness in love of virtue.

The light of God’s countenance is the grace of j stification, whereby the created image is imprinted.

The light is the whole and true good of man, whereby he is marked like a penny with the king’s image.

That is why the Lord adds in this Gospel: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, etc. It is as if he said: ‘As you give back to Caesar his image, so give back your soul to God, enlightened and signed with the light of his countenance.'”

– St Anthony of Padua

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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HUMANS CANNOT EARN THEIR OWN SALVATION BY THEIR OWN EFFORTS – ST AURELIUS

ST AURELIUS, MEMORIAL: JULY 20th

On “20th July, one of the saints remembered by the Church is St Aurelius. In the late fourth century he was ordained Bishop of Carthage, which today is in Tunisia. At that time there were two heresies which needed to be countered and St Aurelius played a significant part in promulgating what was true Catholic teaching. These heresies, and then Catholic teaching, are summarised below:

Donatism

The first heresy was Donatism. This heresy had implications both for the sacrament of confession and the other sacraments in general. Donatists believed that the sacrament of confession could not reconcile certain sinners back into full communion with the Church. This was in the context of certain clerics having previously gone against the Church during times of persecution. The Donatists had a rigorist position against them returning to the Church. The other belief of the Donatists which needed to be countered was their insistence that by sinful acts priests made themselves unable to celebrate valid sacraments. St Aurelius proclaimed the truth of the Catholic Faith that the sacrament of confession was precisely for everyone who repented and that there was a way back to full communion with the Church.

Also that the validity of any sacrament depended on the holiness of God, the priest being a mere instrument of God’s work. So any priest, even one in a state of sin, who speaks the formula of the sacrament with valid matter, as laid down by the Church, and with the intent of causing the sacrament to occur, acts validly. For example, a Catholic who receives the Eucharist from the hands of a priest, even if he has sinned, still receives Christ’s Body and Blood, their own sacramental life being undamaged by the priest’s sins.

Pelagianism

The other heresy to be countered was that of Pelagianism. This taught that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will was still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s help. Human will alone was sufficient to live a sinless life and that human beings can earn their own salvation by their own efforts.

The Council of Carthage at that time corrected these errors. The statements include the teaching that death did not come to Adam from a physical necessity, but through sin; newborn babies must be baptised on account of original sin; justifying grace not only avails for the forgiveness of past sins, but also gives assistance for the avoidance of future sins; without God’s grace it is not merely more difficult, but impossible to perform good works; not out of humility, but in truth we must confess ourselves to be sinners.

St Aurelius became a good friend of St Augustine of Hippo and the two of them, in writing and spoken word, actively confronted the teachings and tactics of these heretics. St Aurelius died in the year 430.”

From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”/2015

 

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THE DIVINE PLAN FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN

THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MEN AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: JESUS’ LAST DISCOURSE

“Toward the close of the Last Supper there took place the famous last discourse of Jesus to His Apostles before His death. The discourse is both tender and mysterious. Jesus seems to be trying to lead His Apostles to a deeper understanding of the spiritual life which He has come to give them. He has foreseen and has foretold to them their desertion of Him in His hour of trial. He offers them words of consolation and of hope. But the hope is based on the acceptance of profound doctrines on the essence of God and on the divine plan for the redemption of man.

‘LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED’

Jesus begins with a word of consolation: ‘Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to Myself; that where I am, there you also may be. And where I go you know, and the way you know’ (John 14:1-4).

HE WHO SEES JESUS SEES ALSO THE FATHER

The Apostles did not understand Jesus. Thomas objected, ‘Lord, we do not know where thou art going, and how can we know the way?’ (John 14:5). Jesus replied, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would also have known My Father. And henceforth you do know Him, and you have seen him’ (John 14:6-7).

THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE

Again Thomas is mystified and he asks to be shown the Father. Jesus replies that he who sees Jesus sees also the Father. Then Jesus repeats what He had said on a previous occasion; He and the Father are one. While being distinct Persons, they are nevertheless both God, the one true God. Hence he who sees Jesus sees also the Father, for the Father is in His Son and the Son is in His Father.

JESUS TELLS THEM THAT THIS DOCTRINE IS A DIVINE REVELATION

Jesus then tells them that this doctrine is a divine revelation from the Father, a revelation guaranteed by the wondrous works, the miracles which the Father works through Jesus. If the Apostles will believe in Jesus because of these works, then they themselves will perform even more wondrous things, so that the Father may be glorified in Jesus.

‘IF YOU LOVE ME KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS’

Following this promise Jesus makes an even greater, though more mysterious promise. ‘If you love Me,’ He says, ‘keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him because He will dwell with you, and be in you’ (John 14:15-17).

THE HOLY SPIRIT

Jesus returns several times throughout His discourse to this theme of the ‘Advocate,’ the ‘Spirit’ whom He and the Father will send to the Apostles. ‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you’ (John 14:26). ‘But when the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me’ (John 15:26). ‘It is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he has come he will convict the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of justice, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; and of judgment, because the prince of this world has already been judged. Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will teach you all the truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he will hear he will speak, and the things that are to come he will declare to you. He will glorify me, because he will receive of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. That is why I have said that he will receive of what is mine and declare it to you’ (John 16:7-15).

FULL OF MYSTERY

The words of Jesus are full of mystery. The ‘Advocate,’ the ‘Holy Spirit’ of whom He speaks is evidently a Person distinct from the Father and from Himself, for the Father and the Son send Him to the Apostles. Moreover Jesus must depart and go to the Father in order to send the ‘Advocate’ to the Apostles.

THE SPIRIT OF LOVE AND TRUTH

The ‘Holy Spirit’ is the Spirit of truth. He will teach the Apostles all things, reminding the Apostles of all that Jesus Himself has taught them, and even revealing to them the things that are to come. He will glorify Jesus, the Son of God, because the things which He will speak He will have received from Jesus, Who received them from His Father.

THE CENTRAL MYSTERY OF THE GODHEAD

The Holy Spirit is a Person distinct from Jesus and from His Father. At this moment Jesus does not make it clear just Who this Person is. But, after His resurrection, when commissioning the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, Jesus commands them to baptise men ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 28:19).

Here the Spirit is put on a par with the Father and the Son. He is, therefore, God, just as the Father and the Son are God. At the Last Supper, then, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles of the great central mystery of the Godhead: the one true God is three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three Persons equally God. The Son has received the Godhead from the Father, for all the things which the Father has are the Son’s. Since the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26), and since He has received from the Son all the things which the Father has (John 16:14-15), it follows that He has received the Godhead from both the Father and the Son.

JESUS’ INTRODUCTION TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

In these mysterious words Jesus introduces the Apostles to the profound doctrine of the Most Blessed Trinity. The doctrine, rather the revelation of this truth about the mysterious depths of the inner life of God, is indeed a great gift to men. If it is a great good to know even the least grain of truth about God, surely it is a magnificent privilege to know the secret of the inner Trinitarian life of God.

A MAGNIFICENT PRIVILEGE

But in the context of the last discourse Jesus does not insist on the intellectual benefits of a knowledge of the existence of the Trinity. Rather He offers the knowledge of the Trinity as a means of consolation and encouragement. Even though Jesus Himself is to leave the Apostles and return to His Father, His going will not leave the Apostles orphans, for if they love Jesus and keep His commandments, the Father and the Son will come to them invisible and dwell in them. Moreover the Holy Spirit will also come to them and ‘be’ in them (John 14:17 and 23).

The Apostles, therefore, are not to be ‘troubled’ or ‘afraid’ or ‘scandalised’ (John 14:27 and John 16:1). Jesus will leave them for a time, not only at His death but even at the time of His ascension to His Father. His followers will be hated and persecuted by the world, even as Jesus Himself was (John 15:18-25).

Nevertheless Jesus will leave to His Apostles ‘peace,’ not the kind of ‘peace’ which the world can give but a true peace, a peace of soul founded on the presence of the Trinity in themselves. Even though Jesus will have left them for a time, they will have the testimony of the Spirit of truth Who will glorify Jesus. The world will persecute the Apostles, even kill them in the name of God. But they will give their own testimony to Jesus, for the Spirit will testify through them. They need not fear or be troubled, for the victory – a victory in the spiritual order, the order of eternal truth – is already won. The devil, the prince of this world, is already judged (John 16:10). He has already lost the struggle against God for the souls of men. His actions against Jesus Himself, which are soon to lead to the death of Jesus on the Cross, can only make known the great love which Jesus has for His Father. ‘But he (the prince of this world) comes that the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do as the Father has commanded me’ (John 14:31).

INNER AND OUTER PEACE OF SOUL FOUNDED ON THE PRESENCE OF THE TRINITY

These words are consoling, not only because they reveal the Trinity to mankind but also because they make clear the divine plan for the salvation of men. Because of sin – the sins of men and angels – the devil is the ‘prince of this world,’ ruling men to their destruction. But God the Father sends God the Son to save men. He accomplishes this by laying down His life – His human life – for men. The devil, and men led by the devil, will bring about the death of Jesus; but, in so doing, they will be unconsciously bringing to fruition the plan of God, for the death of Jesus will mean the salvation of men, those men who become the disciples of Jesus. And thus will the Father be glorified. ‘In this is my Father glorified, that you may bear very much fruit, and become my disciples’ (John 15:8).

THE NEED TO BEAR MUCH FRUIT TO QUALIFY AS A GENUINE FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST

Men will be led back to God, back to the Father through union with Jesus. ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he will take away; and every branch that bears fruit he will cleanse, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn. If you abide in me, and if my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done to you. In this is my Father glorified, that you may bear very much fruit, and become my disciples’ (John 15:1-8).

STRENGTHENING THE FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE

This union with Jesus will be the work of the Holy Spirit, Who will come to give testimony to Jesus. Jesus Himself will return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to do this work.

These details of the divine plan to save men Jesus reveals to the Apostles at the Last Supper. He does so in order to console them and strengthen them in their faith in Himself. ‘These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have affliction. But take courage, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

‘I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD’

Since union with Jesus is the means of salvation, it is most fitting that Jesus concludes His last discourse to the Apostles with a prayer to His Father, a prayer whose chief request is for the establishment of this union of men with Jesus.

JESUS PRAYS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNION OF MEN WITH HIM

Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come! Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee, even as thou hast given him power over all flesh, in order that to all thou hast given him he may give everlasting life. Now this is everlasting life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ’ (John 17:1-3).

JESUS PRAYS FOR HIS APOSTLES

Then Jesus prayed for His Apostles: ‘I pray for them; not for the world do I pray, but for those whom thou hast given me, because they are thine; and all things that are mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep in thy name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we are. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou hast given me I guarded, and not one of them perished except the son of perdition, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled’ (John 17:9-12).

LASTLY JESUS PRAYED FOR ALL THOSE WHO WOULD COME TO BELIEVE IN HIM THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE APOSTLES

Lastly Jesus prayed for all those who would come to believe in Him through the preaching of the Apostles. ‘Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in me, that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory that thou hast given me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me; that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given may be with me; in order that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world. Just Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have made known to them thy name, and will make it known, in order that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them’ (John 17:20-26).

THE CONCLUSION OF THE LAST SUPPER

At the conclusion of this prayer for the union of men with God through Jesus, the Apostles and Jesus concluded the Last Supper with a hymn. Then Jesus and the Apostles left the upper room where they had celebrated the Pasch.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: JESUS FORETELLS THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE END OF THE WORLD

“In great sorrow Jesus brought His public preaching to a close with a solemn warning of destruction to Jerusalem. Then He sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the people offering their gifts to the Temple. He observed the splendid gifts of the rich. But he also observed a poor widow putting in two mites, a small sum, but all she had to live on. He called this to the attention of His disciples.

‘Amen I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who have been putting money into the treasury. For they have all been putting money in out of their abundance; but she out of her want has put in all that she had – all that she had to live on’ (Mark 12:43-44).

JESUS CHRIST’S OWN PEOPLE WILL REJECT HIM

This little incident is both a solace to Jesus and a lesson to His disciples. Jesus has come from heaven to offer men the precious gift of salvation, to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. But the Scribes and the Pharisees have rejected Him. Under their leadership His own people will reject Him and demand His death. Their unwillingness to receive Him shows, on their part, a lack of total dedication to the love of God. When Jesus sees the poor widow giving all that she has to the Temple, His heart rejoices at this example of total love of God. In pointing it out to His disciples He means to tell them once again that it is the spirit which inspires a gift that makes it valuable in the eyes of God. The rich gifts offered by the wealthy were praiseworthy. But since they were only a small part of the abundance of the wealthy, they did not symbolise so well the total gift of one’s self which God demands of every man. But by giving all that she possessed the widow showed in fact that she was totally dedicated to God.

‘THERE WILL NOT BE LEFT ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER’

After this incident Jesus and His disciples remembered His warning of the approaching doom of Jerusalem. They could not help but contrast the beauty and the solidity of the stone walls of the Temple with the sad forecast of the ruin of the Holy City. One of them said to Jesus,

‘Master, look, what wonderful stones and buildings!’ Jesus replied, ‘Dost thou see all these great buildings? There will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down’ (Mark 13:1-2).

Jesus and the band of disciples went then to the Mount of Olives. There the curiosity of the disciples could no longer be restrained. Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him, ‘Tell us, when are these things to happen, and what will be the sign when all these things will begin to come to pass?’ (Mark 13:4).

DID JESUS MEAN TO CONVEY THAT THE END OF THE WORLD WAS COMING SOON?

In the minds of the disciples there must have been great confusion. They had accepted Jesus as the Messias. Since they were Jews it was natural for them to expect the Messias to bring great glory to the Chosen People and to Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. But Jesus had just told them that Jerusalem would be left desolate and the great Temple, the centre of worship of Jahweh, would be destroyed. Perhaps they thought also that the destruction of the Temple would occur only when the Son of Man (spoken of by the prophet Daniel) came in glory to establish the final Kingdom of God at the end of the world. Of what then could Jesus be speaking? Did He mean that the end of the world was coming soon and that then His own glory would be manifested to all men?

WOULD THE GLORY OF THE SON OF MAN BE MANIFESTED TO ALL MEN SHORTLY?

Jesus, in replying to their question, spoke of both the destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world. But He distinguished the two events. They were not to be simultaneous, but rather separated by some interval of time. The destruction of Jerusalem would come during the lifetime of the generation of men who had listened to Jesus Himself. But the end of the world would come later, at a time determined by God the Father. When this time might be was not permitted to men to know. But it would be preceded by signs which would warn the followers of Jesus of its approach.

THE FOLLOWING THINGS TOOK PLACE BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM IN THE YEAR 70 A.D.:

As for the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus first warned His disciples to beware of false Christs, men who would claim to be the Messias. These false Christs would only lead the people astray. There would be wars, and rumours of wars, He told them, pestilences, famine and earthquakes. The He added, ‘And when you see the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not – let him who reads understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let him who is on the housetop not go down and enter to take anything from his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. But woe to those who are with child, or have infants at the breast in those days! But pray that these things may not happen in winter’ (Mark 13:14-18).

All these things took place before the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. False Messiases arose and led the people into revolt against the authority of Rome. Jerusalem was besieged. Its people suffered from famine and pestilence.

As for the disciples themselves, Jesus told them, ‘But be on your guard. For they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, a witness to them’ (Mark 13:9).

THE APOSTLES WERE NOT TO BE AFRAID

When this persecution came upon the disciples they were not to be afraid. ‘And when they lead you away to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to speak; but speak whatever is given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit… And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved’ (Mark 13:11-13).

The disciples of Jesus are urged by Him to face persecution without fear. They will be working for God, for ‘the gospel must first be preached to all nations’ (Mark 13:10).

JERUSALEM WAS ENCIRCLED BY VESPASIAN’S AND TITUS’ TROOPS

God Himself, therefore, will speak through them, and if they persevere they will be saved.

That the first Christian community took His warning seriously is proved by the fact that the Christians there fled to Pella just before the encirclement of the city by the troops of Vespasian and Titus.

THE ANGELS WILL GATHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS

The mind of Jesus then turned to the thought of the end of the world. With prophetic insight He foresaw the signs which would precede His coming as the Son of Man in power and majesty to judge the world. ‘Then,’ He said, ‘there will be great tribulation, such as has not been found from the beginning of the world until now, nor will be. And unless those days had been shortened, no living creature would have been saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then, if anyone say to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert,’ do not go forth; ‘Behold, he is in the inner chambers,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines even to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together. But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then will all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty. And he will send forth his angels with a trumpet and a great sound, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other’ (Matthew 24:21-31).

‘BUT OF THAT DAY OR HOUR NO ONE KNOWS… BUT THE FATHER ONLY’

Before the world comes to an end, then, a number of false Christs will appear, seeking to lead men astray. So powerful will be the forces of evil that even the elect would be led astray except that God will shorten the time so that they may be saved. Just when the end will come Jesus does not say.

‘But of that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only’ (Mark 13:32).

Jesus does not mean that as the Son of God He is Himself ignorant of the day when the world will end. He means that this is knowledge which God the Father does not allow to angels or men, but reserves for God alone. Jesus, as the Son of God, knows the day and the hour, but as the Messias He will not reveal it to men.

OUR LORD JESUS’ COMING WILL BE AS QUICK AND AS SUDDEN AS LIGHTNING

The destruction of Jerusalem, as Jesus foretold it, would not be sudden, its approach would not be unrecognisable. Men would have an opportunity to flee from the city and escape its fate. But the end of the world would come suddenly and men will find no chance to escape.

Neither will they be able to recognise its approach clearly.

‘And as it was in the days of Noe [Noah], even so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noe entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away; even so will the coming of the Son of Man be’ (Matthew 24:37-39). Or, as Jesus had already said, His coming will be as quick as sudden as a bolt of lightning searing the sky from east to west.

‘TAKE HEED, WATCH AND PRAY’

Because of the uncertainty of the time of the end of the world Jesus warns His disciples to be ready at every moment for that final catastrophe. ‘Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is’ (Mark 13:33).

In several parables Jesus emphasised the necessity of being prepared for the coming of the Son of Man to judge the world. ‘As a man,’ He said, ‘when he leaves home to journey abroad, puts his servants in charge, to each his work, and gives orders to the porter to keep watch. Watch, therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or early in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping’ (Mark 13:34-36).

Or again, ‘Watch, therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is to come. But of this be assured, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would certainly have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come’ (Matthew 24:42-44).

Or, ‘Who, dost thou think, is the faithful and prudent servant whom his master has set over his household to give them their food in due time? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, shall find doing so. Amen I say to you, he will set him over all his goods. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master delays his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day he does not expect, and in an hour he does not know, and will cut him asunder and make him share the lot of the hypocrites. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 24:45-51).

THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH VIRGINS

Lastly Jesus made the same point in the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins. Ten virgins went out joyfully to attend a wedding. They carried lamps to light their way. Five were wise and carried also some vessels of oil to replenish their lamps if it became necessary. But five were foolish and carried no extra supply. The coming of the bridegroom was delayed. The virgins fell asleep. When the bridegroom came they arose and prepared to attend the marriage feast. But the lamps of the foolish virgins had gone out and so they were late in arriving at the feast. The door was shut. The bridegroom, not knowing them, refused to let them in.

…TO MEET JUDGMENT UNAFRAID

In all these parables Jesus was emphasising the point that His disciples should be prepared always to meet judgment at the hands of the Son of Man. ‘Watch, then, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to be, and to stand before the Son of Man’ (Luke 21:36).

No man may know when the end of the world will be. But all men must be prepared to meet it at any moment. They must watch and pray so that they meet judgment unafraid.

‘HE WILL COME AGAIN IN GLORY TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD’

This thought of the end of the world and of the second coming of the Son of Man is followed quite naturally in the discourse of Jesus by a description of the judgment of men at the end of time. ‘But when the Son of Man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory and before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the just will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and feed thee; or thirsty, and give thee drink? And when did we see thee sick, or in prison, and come to thee?’ And answering the king will say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left hand, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me.’ And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life’ (Matthew 25:31-46).

THE JUDGMENT WILL BE BASED ON THE LAW OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

As the Son of Man, the apocalyptic figure spoken of by the prophet Daniel, Jesus will come at the end of the world to judge all men. His judgment will be based on the law of love which He so often preached to men. Those who have loved their fellowmen enough to aid them in their need will be given eternal life with God. Those who have not followed this law of love will be punished eternally in the fire of hell prepared for the devil and his angels. At the moment of judgment the secret of all history will be revealed.

THE SECRET OF ALL HISTORY WILL BE REVEALED

Jesus does not tell us the full nature of this secret. But He tells us enough for us to know that it flows in some mysterious way from the free wills of God, the angels and men. In the transcendent freedom of His will God has loved the universe enough to give it being, existence. And He has given it existence for the sake of His elect, angels and men whom He will gather from every corner of the universe to share His Kingdom with Him. The elect are those who live by the law of love, love of God and love of one another. Their love is the free choice of their own wills, echoing generously the creative act of God’s free decision to make the world. But some angels, and some men, will freely choose not to imitate the divine love; they will refuse to love [unconditionally], and in their refusal they will reject both God and all others. They will be punished by their own refusal; having rejected [unconditional] love, the secret of the universe, they must live forever in the self-corrosion of hate.

TO LOVE ANYONE IS TO LOVE HIM WHO IS THE BROTHER OF ALL

The disciples of Jesus might have wondered that Jesus mentioned only love of men as the basis for the final judgment of all men. Surely, they might have thought, men should be judged on the basis of their love for God. But Jesus had already taught them that it was God’s will that they should love all men as they loved themselves. In so doing they would be loving God Himself.

And in Jesus Himself there is an ever deeper reason why this is true. Jesus is God Himself come to earth, God-made-man. By taking to Himself a human nature, the Son of God has become the neighbour, in fact, the brother of all mankind. By His own free decision He has identified Himself with all men. To love anyone, therefore, is to love Him, Who is the brother of all. And to love Him is to love not just a man but God Himself.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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20th MARCH, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 16:19-31)

GOOD THINGS CAME YOUR WAY, JUST AS BAD THINGS CAME THE WAY OF LAZARUS. NOW HE IS BEING COMFORTED HERE WHILE YOU ARE IN AGONY.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

“In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’ ‘My son,’ Abraham replied, ‘remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.’

“The rich man replied, ‘Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.’ ‘They have Moses and the prophets,’ said Abraham, ‘let them listen to them.’ ‘Ah no, father Abraham,’ said the rich man, ‘but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they will not listen either to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.’”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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