The Last Judgment by John Martin (1854)

READINGS: Malachi 4:1-2 / 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 / Luke 21:5-19
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we draw close to the end of the liturgical year, we are reminded of an article of faith which we professed in our Creed: namely that, the Lord Jesus Christ “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”.  Aware that the judgment of the Lord (cf. first reading) is a certainty, we need to lead lives that are in accordance with His commandments.

Christ’s judgment could be likened to the examination of students.  To pass the examination, students have to prepare for it.  Moreover, to pass an examination which has no fixed date and time, one has to be ever prepared for it.  Similarly, we should be always prepared since we do not know the day or the hour that Christ will come again nor the moment of our death.

Unfortunately, just as there are fraudsters who try to leak fake examination papers, so there have been false prophets who claimed to know the day of the Lord’s coming.  In each case, their predictions were false.  In the early part of the year 2006, for instance, someone predicted that the 6th of June (06/06/06) would be doomsday, but he was proved wrong.  Similarly, in 2011, another person predicted that the world would come to an end on the 11th of November (11/11/11).  When I heard that, I knew that “prophet” was being enrolled into the “Hall of Fame of False Prophets”; for how could he claim to have known what Jesus says that neither the angels nor the Son of Man know (Mark 13:32).

Now, as good students would ignore “leakers” of fake examination papers and rather focus on their studies, so let us ignore the false prophets and focus on our preparations for the Lord’s coming and judgment.  There are both spiritual and social preparations to be made.  Our spiritual preparation includes regular communication with God (through worship, prayers and reading of His Word), bearing testimony to Christ by word and deed, and coping with challenges or persecutions that arise on account of our faith in Him (cf. gospel reading).

The social preparation includes meeting our genuine obligations to family and society at large.  In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us of one of such obligations: we should work to earn our living (2 Thess. 3:10).  This exhortation was initially addressed to Christians in Thessalonica some of whom felt that if the Lord were to be coming in their lifetime, there was no point in working.  In the light of this admonition of St. Paul, I believe that if he were to be around today, he would have addressed a phenomenon in Africa today, namely, the regular “prosperity/miracle” services during (weekday) working hours.  Those who patronize such services often lose twice: (a) by the donations (which are certainly not offerings to God) they give to the pastors, they reduce their business capital or personal income, and (b) for the hours they stay away from their office/shop/market they lose some sales and/or business opportunities.

Finally, like good students who prepare well for their examinations, let us fulfil our spiritual and social obligations in ways that please the Lord, so that we pass the examinations of His judgment with heavenly “flying colours”.  Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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