Reflection & Dialogue: Remember your last end. Be prepared to meet your God!.

The last things, the particular judgment at death, and the call for preparedness for this are less spoken of or written about in modern times. In the biblical context there can more readily be reference to the Parousia, to Jesus’ return. There may even be an idea that Jesus made reference only to this, as in today’s parable, without mention of being prepared for death. This would be erroneous. Jesus spoke of such matters, and a number of times in Matthew’s Gospel assigned as Sunday readings for this year. He was asked what good deed was necessary to have eternal life, and his answer was to keep the commandments (19:16-17). He was also asked whether only a few will be saved, and his reply was to strive to enter through the narrow door, for the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life (7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24). He asked what it profits people if they gain the whole world and suffer the loss of their souls (16:26), where the word “soul” is not to be understood just as life, since the text following speaks of the Son of Man repaying every one for what they have done. The Gospel warnings are taken up by early Christian preaching. In his letters to the Philippians Paul has many positive things to say, telling them to think about whatever is honourable, just, pure, whatever is pleasing, commendable, any excellence, anything worthy of praise (4:8) but also tells them (Philippians 2:12-13) to work out their salvation in fear and trembling, being aware that it is God who is at work in them enabling them to do his will. Paul knows that, as athletes in a race, he must discipline himself in his Christian life, by punishing his body, lest after proclaiming the Gospel he should not be disqualified, become a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27). These are but some of the admonitions of the New Testament, which has many warnings on the avoidance of the occasions of sin. While the emphasis in today’s Church on the positive, on charisms, and such like is commendable, neglect of the New Testament warning on the frailty of human nature, and on the constant need of vigilance can be dangerous for Christian living.

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