Browsing Homilies

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 6:12-16 | Ps 63 | 1 Thes 4:13-18 | Mt 25:1-13

As the sun grows dimmer and the Church calendar draws toward its close, we hear much about the final judgment. The Jews of Jesus’ day expected Almighty God to declare war on evil at any moment and hold all people accountable for their deeds. Some of Jesus’ apocalyptic words feel foreboding. Be ready. The end is coming. If there is a “test,” will I pass it? Am I Christian enough? Might I be among the foolish, one who has messed up just too many times.

On the other hand, we might identify with the wise virgins: I am pious. I say my prayers. I am Christian enough. Perhaps everyone will “pass” at the end of time, for God is merciful. Might God choose to hand everyone an “A?”

Which is it? Well—both—and neither.

Yes, the end is coming, whether at our own death or at the conclusion of time. But panic only paralyzes, and presumption makes us imprudent. In wisdom, how are we to approach the Blessed One at judgment? Holy fear and a bit of awestruck trembling are needed—so is the graced conviction that we are profoundly loved and radically forgiven. Awe and confidence walk together hand in hand.

Our Catholic faith is full of paradox. Christianity is the great both/and: God is Three-in-One; Christ’s nature is both divine and human; he is both the shepherd and the lamb. Mary is both mother and Virgin. As we prepare for “the end,” “the last things,” the “final judgment,” whenever that is and however it comes about—how do we keep a healthy balance between holy fear and graced confidence?

Toward which side do you lean?

Jesus our Bridegroom, you don’t only come in a rush at the end of time. Sometimes you tiptoe in quietly and beckon to us in the depths of our conscience. We know that our end is inevitable. Give us a touch of holy fear to help us heed you now so we are ready then. Do not let our love grow cold as we wait for you. Come to us, Spirit of warmth, and keep our lamps burning brightly.


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