Remembering Our Faithful Dead

Matthew 25:31-46
Wis 3:1-9 / Psa 23 / Rom 6:3-9

He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
(Matthew 25:33)

In doing acts of charity,
God’s kingdom we shall inherit;
God sees in our fidelity
And obedience our great merit.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put 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; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel about the Final Judgment is the last lesson or parable that Jesus taught, or even His final call to repentance before His passion, death and resurrection. We can also see this as the culmination of a series of eschatological lessons that our Lord gave, starting with the destruction of the temple He foretold, the onset of calamities, the great tribulation, the Second Coming of Jesus, the lesson of the fig tree, and preparing for the unknown day and hour of His coming (Mt.24:1-44). This was followed by three parables that all emphasized God’s rewards for the diligent and faithful servants (Mt.24:45—25:30).

Clearly, today’s Gospel is telling us that we cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven if we never bother to practice charitable works for the needy here on earth. This may not sit well with ‘born again’ Christians who like to quote the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8-9). While it is true that it was primarily by God’s grace through the Great Sacrifice of Jesus that salvation became accessible to man, we still have to prove our faith by imitating our Lord Jesus through our good works. Thus, St. Paul was not contradicting himself when he wrote in another letter, “God . . . will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” (Rom.2:6-8)

As we commemorate this day in honor of our dear departed, let us recall in our prayers for them the good works that they performed during their lives on earth, lifting them up to God for His kind consideration, hoping that our prayers will assist their entry into God’s kingdom.

Lord God, we pray that the souls of our dear departed, through Your mercy and kindness, may finally enter your heavenly kingdom. This we pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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