Homily Thirty-third Sunday Year B Heaven or hell

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Homily: Thirty-third Sunday Year B

Reading 1: There has always been an interest in the end times. The Old Testament reading from the Book of Daniel written over 2000 years ago reflects on that very question. The prophet Daniel is in exile. He was pondering on how long the exile from Jerusalem would continue. In a vision he is given insight into God’s plan. It is important that one’s name is found written in the Book of life.  

Both the just and the wicked will die; both will rise from the dead. There are two destinations for all human beings. 1. Those who will live forever in the glory of God. 2. Those who will suffer forever in everlasting horror and disgrace. One is heaven; the other is hell. Who are those who will live forever in glory with God? The wise—those who heard the word of God and acted on it; those who led many to justice or the truth or to the truth of God’s Word.

What is the question for us? Is heaven or hell a reality for us, even though it is a reality in fact? What wise decisions are we making to be judged worthy by God’s grace and mercy to share in his glory forever? Are we leading others to the truth of God’s word?

Reading 2: The author of Hebrews shows the difference between the priests of the Old Testament and Jesus, the High Priest of the New Testament. The former offered sacrifice to God but their sacrifice did not take away sins. Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice of himself once and sins have been forgiven. Today, we participate in Jesus’ one sacrifice in thanksgiving and praise to God.

What is the connection with the first reading? We can’t earn heaven, but we can earn hell. It was the offering of Jesus, who gave his life as a sacrifice once for all, that has forgiven all sins and reconciled us to God and to one another.

For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who have been consecrated. It is only because of his sacrifice that we can respond to his gift of eternal life or reject the gift of eternal life. The choice between heaven and hell.

Gospel: Jesus speaks of an end time, but says only God knows when and how it will happen. Our focus is not to be the end time of all things as we know them, but a specific end time: the time when death will come to me. It is then that I must face the final consequences of my relation or non-relationship with God.

We are called to be wise as we read the signs of the times, namely, human beings die every day, some suddenly; some after lengthy illness. But death is inevitable. Knowing this we need always to be prepared, not out of fear or anxiety but out of knowing that I have been given the grace of salvation in Baptism, the forgiveness of my sins, the food of eternal life. I have heard the truth of justice, the Word of God. What have I done in response to the countless blessings of God, beginning with Jesus’ death on the cross, his promises and gifts?

Even though I know that death is certain, the time is not. Even though I know that death is final and life after death follows, am I living in a way that I will be with God in glory or living in a way that I will experience, because of my choices, the everlasting horror and disgrace?

Let the hearing of this sacred revelation today become a reality check for us. If I died tonight, what will my eternity be: life with God or life alienated from God?

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