On Sunday, The Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist reminds us what the season is about.
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
“Advent is about preparing for eternity. St. Alphonsus explains that Salvation is our only duty.
Of all the things we have to do in our lifetime, the most important is to make sure we get to heaven when we die. This is our most important task, yet it is also the one most ignored and overlooked.
When people set out to acquire a good paying job or win a case in court, they are always very diligent and tireless in their efforts. They neither eat nor sleep until the issue is settled. But when it comes to saving souls, how do they act? On this subject, the greater number of Christians do little or nothing. They act as though death, judgment, heaven, hell, and eternity were not truths of faith, but tales told by idiots.”
Today, many Christians are certain that they are going to heaven. Hell is for other people. We forget that holiness is not the same as being nice. Holiness is imitating Christ.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Mt. 16: 24-26)
If I am attached to my short life here on earth, I could very well loose the prize. The prize is eternal life in God’s kingdom. So if I love money and things and power and success and popularity above God and other people, I am in big trouble. It is not enough to believe. St. Augustine said that even the bad angels believed. Heck they more than believed; they knew with certainty that God exists.
They didn’t care. They choose to reign in hell rather than serve in heaven.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that we are all called to the same end: participation in the very life of God. To achieve this end we are called to live in truth and love. “Love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God.” (CCC 1879)
If we are living for our proper end, we will be called fools, or mindless sheep or bigots.
So be it.
St. Liguori writes,
“For us to acquire eternal glory, our life must be conformable to the life of Jesus . Hence we must be careful, on the one hand, to avoid the occasions of sin, and on the other, to use the means necessary to reach heaven. Some people want to be saved without difficulties or trouble. But Saint Augustine wrote: The devil does not sleep, but works hard to make you lose your soul. Will you then continue to rest when your eternal salvation is at stake?
Well? Are you prepared?