31st Week of the Ordinary Time
First reading: Wisdom 3:1-9
The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are in peace. If they experienced punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be. God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with him; he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust. When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they. They shall judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever. They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.
Second Reading: Romans 5:5-11
Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
Gospel: Mt 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM: In today’s readings, we see the path we need to follow to be part of the family of God. In the book of Wisdom, Solomon states, “he has tested them like gold in a furnace.” This reflects to us that, as we go through the different trials in life, we are been prepared to be part of God’s kingdom. As Paul writes to the Romans, he says that we are saved by Christ and through his death we are reconciled with God. Paul poses the challenge, ‘Are we ready to die for others as Christ died for us?’ In the Gospel, Jesus challenges our actions in regard to receiving the kingdom of God. Since he died for us and we are set free, are we there for those who are least fortunate? Since we are one with Christ, let us live like Christ and let our actions speak louder than our words.
Prayer: Lord God, light our path so that we never fall into darkness but forever live in you.
IN DEATH WE RISE: One of the most fundamental features of our Catholic faith is the belief in the communion between the living and the dead. Today we express our communion with those who are still in the process of purification before the beatific vision. The bonds of love between the living and the dead are not broken by death. Our love for each other endures. The Word of God today gives us comfort, hope and strength as we move forward in our pilgrimage of faith. In the first reading, Isaiah speaks prophetically of the renewal of Israel through the pain of the exile. Pope Francis also reminds us that our departed brothers and sisters are in heaven because they are washed by the blood of Christ. Let us live our lives in the Lord so that when we die, we shall live in heaven with Him.
STEPPING INTO A WORLD OF UNBOUNDED EXISTENCE: A positive vibe, a sense of joy and optimism about those who went before us pervades the reality of Christian life here on earth. This is the world that should guide our life here on earth. It cannot be a world beyond the dark curtains of death. It is not just another world away and apart from this one. If Jesus had died and won victory over death, here we hope to pass on to another realm of life where we are offered unbounded existence. The raising of the young man of Naim and Lazarus in the Gospel are instances of calling someone back into earthly life. But Christian death is an opening of the gate, a passage into a glorious tomorrow. The challenge is: if one takes this reality quite seriously, if one measures up to that world while we are still here.
PRAYING WITH THE LIVING DEAD: Often, we refer to this day as an occasion to pray for the dead. It is also possible to look at it as a day of praying with the living dead. The commemoration of the dead in the Catholic tradition reminds us that those who have gone before us are living, and we can share in their longing for God. Our own desire for God here and now, our own spiritual exercises, and our sacrifices have an impact on them because we are praying with them. We can make up on their behalf what might have been lacking in their earthy lives. Our love for them today is expressed by our participation in their longing to share in the beatific vision of God. “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).