“Lord, Lord open the door for us!” But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matt 25:13)
I have had my share of bad news as many of you have. Getting a diagnosis which leaves us reeling and dazed is often sobering. I remember once over a decade ago, when I was told some unexpected news, even saying a “Hail Mary” was difficult. Not because I was overwrought, but in my nervousness and confusion I could barely remember the words. I have said the Rosary for over fifty years, this should not have been an issue. I have come to realize that at those kinds of moments in our life where words can fail us; all we need do is fall into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
There however are no words more ominous and frightening to me personally than, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”
Here again the Lord is reminding us to be vigilant, for we do not know when it is game over for each of us personally. Game over? Nah, I will just put some more tokens in and keep playing.
Remember the early video arcade games that would milk you for quarters to keep the game playing? I do. Life sometimes feels like that. Try this age-defying elixir. Take that bold new prescription. What is inevitable for each of us however, is at some point usually when we least expect it, time is up. Death is inevitable. There are no do overs once the game of life is over.
While there are lots of opportunities for U-turns, reboots, and start overs when we are alive, when we die, we can do NOTHING for our own good and must rely completely on the prayers of others. Can you see the danger of assuming someone is “in heaven already” thus, no urgency to pray for their souls?
A sobering thought and practical habit of taking stock of our lives is a good way to get an indicator of where we might be spiritually. This is not to pump us up with pride or to depress us, rather to realize the shortness of life and the endlessness of eternity.
This life is the shortest period of our overall existence. Matthew Kelly likes to say, “Life is short, and we are dead a long time.” Yet, what we do here in this short period of time means everything regarding where we spend the rest of eternity. Hence the urgency of this message and all the Scripture passages which remind us of this fact. “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” Saint Augustine.
What can we do right now to make a positive difference in our eternal destination?
Go to confession regularly. The momentary awkwardness, and humiliation is good for us to realize sin is messy and has a cost. The feeling after a good confession is priceless. It is time to get rid of that load you have been carrying.
Get to Mass weekly. “But our churches aren’t open yet.” Then watch on the TV or check out all the different live streams all over the world. If something is important to us, we will do everything in our power to make it happen. We are still offering Communion after the 10 am live stream mass at St Andrew’s. These practices are eternally important and are particularly beneficial right now to receive grace.
Pray daily. Make time to converse with the Lord. Visit the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament or just make a visit to any Church if Wednesday doesn’t work for you. Pray for yourself and others. Pray for your family, our nation, and the world. Our Blessed Mother has asked us repeatedly through her apparitions to” pray the Rosary daily.” If you don’t know how, here is a helpful resource.
Did you know that having a Mass said for someone while they are living is more efficacious than for someone who has died? I just learned that recently. It is not one or the other. Yes, have masses said for the sick and the dead but get one for yourself and family members too; especially for the really difficult hard hearts that are not listening, nor open to the faith.
All these things will help you love your neighbor more and willingness to be Christ to them.
I personally would like to be on the other side of that proverbial door. The inside part.
What is really at stake in being known or unknown by the Lord? Everything. This is it, the pearl of great price, the gold at the end of the rainbow, the eternal lottery.
Am I spending time at the feet of our Lord as Mary did, or am I like Martha running around and getting a lot of stuff done for the Lord? Am I in Mass or at Mass? Is my heart and mind in prayer or simply doing prayers? Sometimes we can be busy about many things, but forget the one thing necessary, the Unum Necessarium.
It takes time, but time is of the essence. I do not think it is about quantity, rather quality.
The Scripture passage quoted at the opening of this reflection should not make us fearful, rather awake and striving to be vigilant. It should rouse us from our lethargy to seek to know the Lord now while we can. Let us be fearless in our trust of God’s mercy.
St. Augustine wrote these profound words not just for the people over a millennium ago, but for us today as well. “Now is the time for mercy, repent… Keep awake in your heart, awake in your faith, awake in hope, awake in charity, awake in good works…”
As we do just that we will draw closer to the Lord through our brothers and sisters. So that one day, Jesus Himself might say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…” (Matt 25:23)