Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Keeping Eternity Before Your Eyes

Dear Parishioners, 

Eschatology: the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.  

We are all going to die. This is an indisputable fact of human existence. Most people seem to avoid thinking about this reality until they are forced to by the death of someone close to them. We delude ourselves by pretending that we all have an infinite amount of time here on earth.

All of our expiration dates are known by God alone. Are we spiritually prepared to face this inevitable day whenever it may come? I contend that we must keep eternity ever before us as we journey through life. There should never be a day in which we fail to think about our eternal destiny. 

I don't want to seem morbid or fixated on death. However, how we view both our existence here on earth and the afterlife will potentially impact everything that we do each and every day. 

If people are atheists or deny any further existence after death, then they probably live guided by some form of a pleasure principle.  Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!   What else is there? One must get whatever there is out of this life because there is nothing else. Nada. 

However, Christians should think and live differently. We were created ultimately to enjoy an eternity with God. Life on earth is temporary; eternity is forever. We believe our actions will affect our eternal destiny. And we should live accordingly. 

What does the Catholic Church teach? She speaks of the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. After death, we will face judgment—first individual and then a general judgment of all humanity. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor. 5:10) 

For those who are not spiritually ready to enter heaven directly (not deserving hell but not yet fully cleansed of all sin in order to see God face to face), the Church holds there is a temporary time of purification before encountering God which is termed purgatory. Our prayers and Masses offered for the souls in purgatory help them on their journey to God. Please do not deny your loved ones any potential prayers by automatically assuming they are already in heaven. (We do not know they are in heaven with absolute certainty unless they are formally canonized by the Church.) 

Either heaven or hell is the final destiny of all human souls.  Jesus teaches about both:  The Kingdom of Heaven is like (see Mt. 13) . . . For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:10) . . . And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Mt. 25:46) . . . .    

Eternal life is too significant a matter not to take it seriously or to impose our own contrived reality upon it.  Listen to what Jesus teaches.  Abide by His warnings.  Be prepared.  To do otherwise could have disastrous (eternal) consequences.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time "B" - Fr. Edward Namiotka