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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are made for God...
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love him if we choose to sin gravely against him, against our neighbour or against ourselves and fail to repent. Because to sin and to fail to repent is to cut ourselves off from God's grace which makes our love possible in the first place.
The analogy is human love, especially married love. A husband and wife may be made for each other by God. They will only ever find happiness in each others arms in the fullness of love. But if the husband succumbs to the charms of other women, if when he has had a couple of drinks he knocks his wife about, if he finds the internet more interesting than her, if there are parts of his life that he excludes his wife from, if he has long unexplained absences and rarely talks to her, then it doesn't matter how much she loves him he is never going to find that happiness which would be his if he would only return her love. She can't force him, if he is to return her love it must be free - but using his freedom, he has chosen another path.
Each of us are made for God who reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. We will only find happiness loving Jesus Christ and being loved by him. If we break the commandments, if we miss mass when we feel like it, if we have areas of our life that we don't want Jesus involved in, if we rarely talk to him, then it doesn't matter how much Jesus loves us. We will never find that happiness which would be ours if only we would return his love. He can't force us, our love must be free, but using our freedom we have chosen another path.
To die like this without repentance is to go to hell. That is to die having freely chosen not to love Jesus. To go to hell is to be eternally separated from Jesus, from God, who is the only one in whom we can find that happiness and life for which we are made.
Some people think, well once you go to hell, you would be sorry and repent and God would forgive you. But that is nonsense. If that were true then you could spend the whole of eternity continually committing sins and saying sorry. Eternal life would be just the same as life on earth. The whole point about death is that it is the end of change, the end of time, your choices are made, your destiny is fixed.
That's not to say that any of us die perfect. But we die at least with the desire to love God present, with the intention, allbeit with many failures, to obey his commands and live a good life. None of us are immaculately conceived or sinless like Our Blessed Lady, that's why we have requiem masses. But what happens to the person who dies who never prays, and doesn't care or who never goes to mass and doesn't care, or who steals or lies or commits adultery and doesn't care or who never helps the poor and doesn't care? When they die their choice seems to have been made.
Prayer for others
If more people took Jesus' warnings seriously then there might be more people like the parents a young man told me about once. When he was about 18 he moved in with his girl friend, he stopped going to mass and he lapsed from the faith. "You know what my mum and dad did, Father?" he said to me. They said "Right this is serious, this is a question of our son's immortal soul, so from now on, every Wednesday and every Friday we will go to mass and holy communion, say a rosary and fast on bread and water until, by God's grace, our son returns to the faith". It took three years, he told me, but return he did, married and now has a large practising catholic family. Those parents grasped the seriousness with which Jesus speaks of sin and its consequences in today's Gospel.