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“JESUS, REMEMBER ME IN YOUR KINGDOM”

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Apoc. 22:1-7 & Lk. 21:34-36

Today is the last day of the liturgical year before Advent begins tomorrow. The reading from the Book of Revelation presents the final scene of human history, the new Jerusalem, our heavenly home. And yet this final scene calls us back to the beginning of the human race and the beginning of our individual lives as Christians.

In the Book of Genesis the first man and woman, representing all of us, were forbidden to eat of the tree of life as a test of their obedience to God. By breaking this commandment Adam and Eve pushed God out of their lives and in effect tried to make gods of themselves. The result was catastrophic and death entered our world. Paradoxically in the heavenly Jerusalem not one but 12 trees of life grow luxuriously. Adam and Eve drew a curse upon the race, but in the heavenly Jerusalem "nothing deserving a curse shall be found.” All the faithful are invited to eat of the fruit of these trees, which bear fruit in turns every month, a symbol of never ending life with God.

Also in Heaven flows the river of life giving water. This image should remind us of the water of Baptism, the beginning of our lives as Christians, the sacramental sign that God gives us His life like a seed which is to grow within us. The water of Baptism is usually little more than a trickle but in Heaven a river flows down the middle of the streets, this abundance of water being a symbol of the fullness of life in Heaven.

In the Gospel Jesus focused on three things which can so weigh our hearts down - drunkenness, dissipation and the anxieties of life (v.34) - warning, “that day will spring on you suddenly, like a trap” (v.34). These are very sober words and we cannot just ignore them or pretend Jesus didn't say them - He did, and we should take them seriously. The Gospel is both bitter and sweet. We receive God's grace, forgiveness, redemption and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But there is, too, the reality of death, judgement, Heaven, Hell, the second coming, the final judgement and the winding up of human history on planet Earth. The truth is that life is a precarious and a fleeting business. We are on Earth for what actually is a 'drop' of time when compared with the ocean which is eternity. God wants us to cultivate an eternal perspective. We need God's grace to teach us to number our days aright so we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12).

Human life is like the grass of the field: one day here but gone the next. Faith teaches us that one day we will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and be called to give an account of our lives. On that day we will be judged according to the royal law of love. We are called to live as those who have a lively and sensitive awareness that we will stand before the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, our Lord and King. This does not mean that we have to be dour, miserable and cowering, but the opposite, full of hope, love and obedience. Jesus did not come to condemn but to give us life and life to the full.

Saint Mother Teresa once said, “I am, not sure exactly what Heaven will be like, but I do know that when we die and it comes for God to judge us, He will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' but rather He will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?'"

I think the most fortunate person in this world was the repentant thief. He heard from Jesus’ lips those happy words, “I promise you this day you will be with Me in Paradise.” It would be good if each day we said his prayer, “Jesus, remember me in your kingdom,” and on our last day on this Earth hearing Jesus say, “I promise you this very day you will be with Me in Paradise.”

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