“I assure you, it will go easier for Tyre and Sidon than for you on the day of judgment.” —Matthew 11:22
Although many people don’t want to talk or think about it, it is a fact that “we shall all have to appear before the judgment seat of God” (Rm 14:10). After dying (Heb 9:27) and at the end of the world (Mt 25:31), each person will be “judged according to his conduct” (Rv 20:13). The Lord “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts” (1 Cor 4:5). Those who have lost their lives (Lk 9:24) by totally giving them to Jesus will be saved. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, Lord, and God will be saved (Acts 16:30-31). Those baptized and living their Baptisms in love (Mk 16:16) will be saved, enter into eternal life, and see Jesus face to face (1 Jn 3:2).
Those who have turned away from God by serious mortal sin will be judged worthy of eternal punishment (see Mt 25:46). They will be judged as having decided to be “apart from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might” (2 Thes 1:9). They will be thrown out into the night to wail and grind their teeth (Mt 22:13). “Their lot is the fiery pool of burning sulphur, the second death!” (Rv 21:8)
Do not be so foolish as to forget about Judgment Day. But do not worry about it. Now give your life totally to Jesus, the Judge (Jn 5:22), Who is Love (1 Jn 4:16).
Prayer: Father, thank You for telling me the truth in love (see Eph 4:15).
Promise: “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!” —Is 7:9
Praise: Jane spends her Sunday afternoons taking Holy Communion to the homebound.
“He who will not take up his cross and come after Me is not worthy of Me.” —Matthew 10:38
We are Christians, disciples of Christ. We follow Jesus, Who saved us not so much through His power or wisdom, but through His ministry of suffering. Jesus came to earth to die on the cross to atone for our sins, pay the price for our salvation (1 Cor 6:20), and reconcile us to God (Col 1:20).
We must never over-spiritualize our faith and forget that Jesus suffered horribly in the flesh (Heb 5:8). Jesus died a disgraceful death. He was publicly humiliated, scorned as a condemned criminal. He Who was holy and innocent bore a cross meant for a murderer (Lk 23:25).
We Christians imitate Jesus. We take up our cross each day, deny our very selves, and follow in His footsteps (Lk 9:23). This is impossible in our human nature. Through our baptism into Jesus’ cross and death, however, we become sharers in the divine nature (Rm 6:4; 2 Pt 1:4). Now we can embrace the cross as Jesus embraced His cross. In the mystery of the cross, by taking up our cross, we discover who we are (Mt 10:39).
If you falter carrying your cross, remember that Jesus understands. He fell several times carrying His cross. He knows the cross is heavy but He also wants you to know the joy in sharing in His sufferings (1 Pt 4:13). So cross off your list anything that leads you away from Jesus’ cross. Take up your cross.
Prayer: Jesus, may I know nothing but Your cross (1 Cor 2:2). May I be crucified to the world and the world to me (Gal 6:14).
Promise: “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies Me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.” —Ps 50:23
Praise: A group of lay Carmelite families spread the Word of God by composing music, giving concerts at Catholic churches, and sharing God’s Word as they travel.
From the beginning of the treatise On the Mysteries
Saint Ambrose, bishop
[ 337 – 397 A.D. ]
Now the season reminds us that we must speak of the mysteries, setting forth the meaning of the sacraments. If we had thought fit to teach these things to those not yet initiated through baptism, we should be considered traitors rather than teachers. Then, too, the light of the mysteries is of itself more effective where people do not know what to expect than where some instruction has been given beforehand.We gave a daily instruction on right conduct when the readings were taken from the history of the patriarchs or the maxims of Proverbs. These readings were intended to instruct and train you, so that you might grow accustomed to the ways of our forefathers, entering into their paths and walking in their footsteps, in obedience to God’s commands.
Open then your ears. Enjoy the fragrance of eternal life, breathed on you by means of the sacraments. We explained this to you as we celebrated the mystery of “the opening” when we said: Effetha, that is, be opened. Everyone who was to come for the grace of baptism had to understand what he was to be asked, and must remember what he was to answer. This mystery was celebrated by Christ when he healed the man who was deaf and dumb, in the Gospel which we proclaimed to you.
After this, the holy of holies was opened up for you; you entered into the sacred place of regeneration. Recall what you were asked; remember what you answered. You renounced the devil and his works, the world and its dissipation and sensuality. Your words are recorded, not on a monument to the dead but in the book of the living.
There you saw the levite, you saw the priest, you saw the high priest. Do not consider their outward form but the grace given by their ministries. You spoke in the presence of angels, as it is written: The lips of a priest guard knowledge, and men seek the law from his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord almighty. There is no room for deception, no room for denial. He is an angel whose message is the kingdom of Christ and eternal life. You must judge him, not by his appearance but by his office. Remember what he handed on to you, weigh up his value, and so acknowledge his standing.
You entered to confront your enemy, for you intended to renounce him to his face. You turned toward the east, for one who renounces the devil turns toward Christ and fixes his gaze directly on him.