No doubt, everyone has faced that dreaded “0-hour”. Usually our first experience with “0-hour” is exam time in school. And finally, the teacher says, “children, put down your pens, time is up”. Some of you may have done so with a confident smile, but the rest of us where in a panic. “Oh no! Why did I not take more time to study? I knew better, but just had to go out and party the night before”.
And so it goes, many, many time through life. Even when you finally become seniors you have to pass that testing to renew your drivers licence.
Well the liturgy, today is meant to be a day of examination; not a final exam however, more like a midterm – thank God. Matthew’s gospel Ch. 25:35, presents us with an image of Judgement Day. We hear Jesus describing how the standard of our accounting is to be measured by the Works of Mercy.
o “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”.
From this the Church has derive the Corporal Works of Mercy and with these we are most familiar. But to these has been added the Spiritual Works of Mercy, also seven in number, compiled from Jesus teachings found throughout the gospels. They are no less important:
o <> counsel the doubtful <> instruct the ignorant <> admonish the sinner<> comfort the afflicted <> forgive offences willingly <> bear wrongs patiently <> pray for the living and the dead.
In Matthew’s account of the Corporal Works, we see how people are surprised by how they are judged, asking: “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?” It is even more surprising when we are held up to the standard of the Spiritual Works. But these are no less important.
Our Holy Father, in Misericordiae Vultus, the Vatican document which announced the Year of Mercy, described the Spiritual Works this way:
o Our Holy Father writes, “We will be asked if we have helped others to escape the doubt that causes them to fall into despair and which is often a source of loneliness; if we have helped to overcome the ignorance in which millions of people live, especially children deprived of the necessary means to free them from the bonds of poverty; if we have been close to the lonely and afflicted; if we have forgiven those who have offended us and have rejected all forms of anger and hate that lead to violence; if we have had the kind of patience shown by God, who is so patient with us; and if we have commended our brothers and sisters to the Lord in prayer.
Holy Father ends with: Let us not forget the words of St. John of the Cross: ‘As we prepare to leave this life, we will be judged on the basis of love,’ on how concretely we showed love to others — both those in need spiritually and those with physical needs”.
Advent begins next Sunday – a new gift of time, a time to prepare, a time to examine our lives, a time to resolve to get down to work in all seriousness.
Yes, there really is a day of accounting – and the standard is the standard of love.