Wis 18 :6 - 9, Heb 11 :1-19, Lk 12 :32 - 48. A. PREAMBLEThe greatest tragedy of the Christian life is to have a bad ending - to end up in hell after all our struggles here on earth. Unfortunately, this is a topic many do not usually like to reflect about. A Saint was shown a picture of 3 classes of agents that the devil has sent out into the world ; The 1st class are detailed to convince people that there is no God and that the Bible is a mere literature. The 2nd class are detailed to tell people that there is God but that God is so merciful that he will never allow any Christian go to hell. The 3rd class are detailed to tell people that there is still enough time to repent so they can continue to enjoy their sinful lives and repent later. This 3rd class of agents have succeeded most tremendously in winning many souls for the devil especially from among christians.We need to reflect today on the reality of end time and its imminent dangers and warnings and be able to take some wise precautions. Our bishop Most Rev Godfrey Onah reminded us at our last emergency presbyterium meeting after the sudden news of the death of Fr Kevin Onah : 'Brothers get ready', says the bishop. He went on to tell us that he has 4 tombs in the new cathedral for bishops. He concluded that we just have to be ready. Let's remain focused.
B. THE 3 CLASSES OF JUDGMENTIn Catholic eschatology, there are 4 last things : Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. - Heb 9 :22 - It is appointed unto men to die only once ; and after death comes judgment. 3 ways of ending life are ipso facto implied in today's gospel periscope from the point of view of Biblical theology (not Dogmatic theology). The 3 classes of Stewards imply the 3 classes of judgment ;(a) Hell - Represented here by the metaphor of the servant that receives severe beating ; The wicked servant who says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming and begins to beat the men servants and the maid servants and to eat and drink and get drunk... The master of that servant will come on the day when when he does not expect... (death.. Recollect last Sunday's homily on the poor and rich fools) and will punish him with the unfaithful '. * Summary : Wickedness, laziness, drunkenness, immorality, etc are vices that may likely take us to hell. * Mathematical equation : +ve Knowledge Vs - ve Action = Hell (-ve Condition). (b) Purgatory - Represented here by the metaphor of the servant that receives light beating : 'The servant who did not know and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating', Lk 12 : 48. * Summary : Sins that are not mortal, 1Jn 5 :16 found in a believer have their negative effects vitiated by our fundamental option for Christ, Rom 8 :1, yet encumbered by some level of culpable ignorance , these sins are not likely to take us to hell but to heaven after purgation, 1 Cor 3 :15. * Mathematical equation : - ve Knowledge Vs - ve Action = Purgatory (+ Condition of Hope). (c) Heaven - Represented here by the metaphor of the servant that receives a beatific reward ; 'Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom the master when he comes will find so doing good?', Lk 12 : 42.* Summary : Works of charity, investments for the kingdom (mortification, almsgiving, tithe offering, etc) are most likely to take us to heaven. * Mathematical equation : +ve Knowledge Vs +ve Action = Heaven (+Condition).
C. WHAT'S YOUR TARGET IN LIFE? What's your target in life : heaven, purgatory or hell? Remember exactly what the scriptures have said :- Rev 21 :27 - Nothing unclean shall come into it (heaven) ; no one who does what is loathsome or false but only those who are listed in the Lamb's book of life. * It may not necessarily be the registered members of any Church or Zone. * It may not necessarily count - the number of priests or even bishops present on the day of your burial mass. - Rev 22 :12 - 'Let the sinner continue sinning ; let the upright continue in his uprightness. Look, I am coming soon and my reward with me... V. 14. Blessed are those who have washed their robes clean (sacrament of penance, Jn 20 :23 "Lk 5 :14), so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life (Jn 6 :53, Heb 10 :20) and can come in through the gates into the city (heaven alluded to). V. 15. Others must stay outside ; (i) dogs (erratic people), (ii) fortune tellers, (iii) sexually immoral, (iv) murderers, (v) idolaters, (vi) everyone of false speech (liars) and (vii) false life (hypocrites and 419 people).
D. YOU MUST STAND READYThe Word of God encourages us heavily in today's gospel : 'No need to be afraid, it has pleased your father to give you the kingdom' especially those who are ready to make spiritual investments. V. 33 - 'Sell your possessions and give alms . Get yourselves purses that do not wear out. For where your treasure is there will your heart also be (Eg the 2 foolish men of last Sunday's gospel). - Ps 90 :12 - Lord make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart. - Ps 14 - The fool says in his heart 'There is no God ; their deeds are corrupt depraved'. - Ps 15 - Yahweh, who can find a home in your tent? (i) Whoever lives blamelessly, (ii) Who speaks the truth from his heart, (iii) Who controls his tongue, (iv) Who does no wrong to his neighbour (Eg murder and adultery), (v) Who casts no slur on a neighbour, (vi) Who stands by an oath at any cost (Eg celibate vow or wedding vow), (vii) Who asks no interest on loans, (viii) Who takes no bribe to harm the innocent..
E. CONCLUSIONOur lives must be guided by 3 attitudes as recommended by today's gospel :(i) Girded loins (alertness for positive actions),(ii) Lighted lamps (alertness for positive knowledge) and (iii) Waiting hearts (alertness for true devotion). * If our hearts are truly set on the kingdom and we make sincere efforts (taking advantage of all the sacraments provided by God for his Church), we will surely get there. *Join me in singing this song :That great day is coming (twice) All men shall stand before the throne of God and give account of ourselves. You will stand ; I will stand ; My father will stand ; My mother will stand. All men shall stand before the throne of God and give account of ourselves. O my darling Jesus when the world is set on fire, who will be my comforter? Who will be my saviour? Guide me O thou the rock of ages. Rock of ages cleft for me!