We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
As I’ve noted in my past few reflections, the end is near! Well, the beginning of the end. As Christians we are to be always prepared for the end times, for the last things, as well as for our own personal end at the time of our death. We will be called to account for how we have carried out our lives, how totally on-board with Jesus we were.
Throughout November we will pray for those who have died and are awaiting entry into heaven, who are going through a time of purification. Are we absolutely certain of where they are? Did we know the state of their soul or how on-board with Jesus they were? Absolutely not! That is between each individual, their confessor, and God. Because we cannot know, it is proper and charity to offer prayers for them. This is not something invented, rather it is scriptural from the Second Book of Maccabees:
He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.2 Maccabees 12:43-45
Your prayers, and offering of the Holy Mass, for departed loved ones helps them get into the Lord’s presence, it helps to atone for their sin, and is thus a worthy thing to do. It is, in fact, a Spiritual Works of Mercy we should all be doing each day.
Unfortunately, the world, and sometimes the Church, avoids the topic of sin and its consequences. Accountability is a rare focus. Factually however, people sin, and sin a lot. They go forward, not thinking of the consequences, or of the need for purification and perfection before entering heaven. We certainly trust in the salvation won us from the cross of Christ Jesus. We know that He has atoned for our sins, but we must also stay on point, living lives that are pure and holy. We cannot cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by failing to live the way He requires while sitting in our sins.
There are some important lessons for us to take from this: Take seriously the call to holiness and the gospel path; Do not judge others – no one can know a person’s inner soul but God; and Let us hold ourselves accountable. The call to holiness and to walk in the way of the gospel is absolute for the baptized believer. Hebrews 12:14 tells us: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We must all answer for how we lived this out. Let us get as close as possible right now while we have the opportunity and help those who have preceded us to do so by our prayers.
Second Corinthians tells us:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.2 Corinthians 5:10
Judgment is a dreadful prospect, isn’t it? Being called to account for how I have carried out my life, how totally on-board with Jesus I was worries me. That is why what we do today, throughout November communally, at Holy Masses offered for deceased loved ones, and by our personal prayer and sacrifice is so important. That is why it is so very important that we remain realistic and ask others to be realistic about us. Don’t canonize me at my funeral and pray for me.
I know I am not worthy of heaven, that I, as St. Paul told the Church at Rome (Romans 3:23): “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” My sins stand in the way and I pray that my sinful body be done away with, that I no longer remain in slavery to sin and I work to get better. I place my hope in what Paul says next (Romans 3:24): That I am justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.
I am accountable and I am in need of purification. That is why I must work now. That is why I beg my children and ask my friends to pray for me when I die, each day, each November, and to offer as many Holy Masses as possible.