33rd Sun [C] 2004

Fr. Charles Irvin

Malachi 3:19-20; Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
The Day of the Lord

The word “day” and its meanings have a significant role both in today’s readings as well as in our lives. So often we look forward to the “Big Day” that is ahead of us – the day of our graduation, the day of our marriage, the day we have a child, the day we retire, and so forth. During the past many, many months you and I have been eagerly looking forward to Election Day, most of us longing to be rid of all of the campaign rhetoric to which we’ve been subjected. Thank God that day has come and it now gone! Now what’s the next Big Day to which you’re looking forward?

The bible speaks of the “Day of the Lord.” Our Church’s liturgical year is filled with many, many significant days, saints’ days, Christmas, Easter, holydays, and so forth. The Church divides them into seasons – Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and even Ordinary Time. Next weekend the Church celebrates the Last Sunday in Ordinary Time, dedicating it to Christ the King, the One who reigns not only over the world but also over all of is ages, seasons and times. It is a big day in the Church’s calendar.

You have a Big Day ahead of you, and so do I. It’s the day we will die. The whole world and all of humanity also have a big day that lies ahead, the Day of the Lord, that day in which the world as we know it will come to an end. Both our own Big Day and the world’s will each be a day of reckoning, that day in which we will account for all that we have done and all that we have not done through neglect, indifference and simply not caring.

How does the Catholic Church want us to think of that Day of the Lord? What’s the right attitude and vision that we should have about that day, a day that we will all certainly face?

First of all, we need to recognize that every age in human history has had its doomsayers… those who keep telling us that the world is about to end along with preachers who love to whip up fear and anxiety in us. But we must also remember that even the Christians in the first years after Christ had to deal with the question about when the Day of the Lord would come.

Now the Catholic Church doesn’t ignore the fact that the world will come to an end and that Christ will come again in judgment on the Last Day. But our Church does ask us not to spend a lot of time and energy pondering over when He is coming. It does want us to pay attention to the fact that He will come again.

Why is this so important? Because death gives meaning to life. If we ignore the fact that we will die and give a reckoning to God, then we’ll forget about how we should be living here and now – today, tomorrow, the rest of the week, the rest of the year, and so forth. If we ignore that we are facing a Day of Judgment, both individually and collectively, we will ignore the way we treat others. We’ll forget about accomplishing the tasks we all have here and now in revealing God’s presence in our own lives and in the lives of others. We’ll set aside the work God has given us to bring peace into our world, to establish justice among us, to lift the burdens of those who are oppressed, to care for the sick, and to assist the poor.

The Church puts the Last Days in front of our eyes so that we can judge what it is we’re doing for Christ in these our days, here, right now. The most effective way to ensure the value of the future is to confront the present courageously and constructively. The Lord speaks to us of the End of the World because thinking about it puts our present day’s values in proper perspective. The world will become more beautiful though our daily efforts, through what we do today and what we do tomorrow. The more beautiful we make it in the days of our lives the more it will shine more gloriously in that Great Day of glory when Christ will come to us in glory surrounded by all of God’s angels. Did it ever occur to you that the glory you will have in heaven might depend in good measure on how beautifully you live the days God gives you here on earth?       

While it’s quite true that you may die tomorrow in some sudden and unexpected accident, your value in death, the value of the days you have lived among us, will depend on what you have done with the days God has already given you as well as upon what you have done today. We should plan ahead and work as if we’re going to live forever… and we should live like we’re going to die tomorrow. Today is not only the first day of the rest of your life here on earth, it is the first day of your eternal life.

Many people in our world, people that we know, live without caring a bit about the end of their individual lives as well as about the end of our world. Sadly, many that do care, care more about it all being blown to smithereens, about it all being reduced by fire into ash, instead of caring about how beautiful it is and what our world is destined to become in God’s love. If we don’t care about the Final Day of Judgment, and if we don’t care about our own particular day of judgment (the day we die) then we won’t care about what we’re doing today and tomorrow, about what’s important in life, or about the way we treat other people, or the world’s resources, or about making the world a more beautiful place. Ordinary life will become too ordinary, and we will gradually slip into moral decay, drugs, anarchy, and an attitude that life and the world is all about me, not you. We’ll end up thinking that the idea of God is meaningless, that religion doesn’t matter, and that morals are strictly a private matter. We will abandon this life, our world, and let the devil take it. Satan will have his day… and Satan will end up having our souls.

So today is the first day of the rest of your life – both your life here on earth as well as your eternal life. Each day remember that the more beautiful you soul becomes in the sight of God now, and the more beautiful a person you become in the sight of God, and the more beautiful person you are in your relationships with other, the more you will shine in glory on that great Day of the Lord when He comes to take us home in the fullness of His time, in His Day that will never end – eternal life.  

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”