FRIDAY HOMILY: I Wish We'd All Been Ready
ready to meet the Lord whether at this return or at our death.
In fact, our Lord uses the parable of the 10 Virgins to remind his followers to be sure that their lamps are filled with oil and their wicks are trimmed, as five of the ten were eager to do. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Mt. 25:13)
In the Preface for the Dead in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we read, "Life is changed not taken away." Recognizing our mortality, as I did in Vietnam, can be quickly changed from dread to delight by the fact that in Christ we have the blessed hope that awaits us in heaven. This is not all there is.
Secondly, St. Augustine gives us an even more important view of this teaching on being left behind from Jesus. In a letter to Evodius, a fellow bishop, he writes, "Since this (Ed. - the days of Noah) signified a future event, the flood also signified baptism for believers and death for unbelievers."
In another letter, this one to Hesychius, he talks about this issue when he refers to the one on the housetop. "In all our trials, each one must take care not to be overcome or to come down from a spiritual height to a carnal life. He who had progressed should not look back by turning toward the past or failing to reach out to the future."
What a picture! Here is the one preparing for baptism - and the flood waters are there, ready to remove all of his old life, when he looks down and sees something there he doesn't want to leave behind. Trying to grasp it with all he's worth, he falls into the torrent and is swept away rather than raised up to new life in Christ.
Whatever pursuits were ours, whatever delights were ours, and whatever appetites were ours prior to baptism must be left behind at the waters of baptism. This is not only important for later converts but also for those whose battle with our lower nature - what the Church calls concupiscence - continues.
As Lot's wife learned, when leaving Sodom, don't look back!
Whether it comes through our baptism, our life of devotion and mortification or ultimately at the end of time as we know it, the days of Noah are upon us. The floodwaters rush headlong to take away anything that is not of God and leave those things that are pure and holy.
My understanding of the old Larry Norman song is much different than it was when I first heard it, yet the hook remains the same: I wish we'd all been ready. Ready to follow Christ, forsaking those things that are not of Him. Ready to abandon all that our lower nature craves and the world caresses. Ready to take the message of the Gospel into all the world, no matter the cost.
To be honest to today's text, when those waters recede, we want to be the ones left behind. With our lives unencumbered by those things that distract us from Christ, we are left to do the work he has called us to do.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: left behind, second coming, rapture, baptism, commitment
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