Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
The Particular Judgement
“Give an account of thy stewardship.” —Luke xvi. 2.
Man’s vocation may be summed up in these words: To live, to die, and to be judged. This is a sure and unalterable law for all men. We are born to die, and we die to be judged, and this judgement will decide for us eternal happiness or eternal misery.
The gifts of nature concern body and soul.
We shall have to give an account of the use we have made of our body. He will ask if you have employed its strength for the service of God, for your neighbour, in honest work, in the giving of alms, and in doing penance. Or if, on the contrary, you have employed your health and your body in the service of the devil.
Then He will ask us whether we have misused the faculties of our mind for evil, to learn that which is wrong; whether we have read bad books, associated with ungodly persons, and taught evil to others. Whether we have employed our intellect to deceive others in business, to testify falsely, to revenge ourselves upon others, to revile religion. He will ask us whether we have not misused our gift of speech with words and songs against purity, with slander. He will ask us if we have used the powers of our reason to instruct ourselves in the truths of our Holy Religion, or whether we have made use of all these gifts to draw others into sin.
God will ask us if we have made good use of our wealth, by reminding ourselves that we are only stewards of the same, and that everything which we shall have used for a bad purpose will be recorded against us as sins.
Now we come, dear brethren, to another item in this rendering of account which will be still more severe, namely, that concerning grace. God will point out to us the benefits which He has granted us, for instance, in permitting us to be born in the bosom of the Catholic Church, when there are so many others, alas, born outside the fold. He will show us how many years, months, weeks, and days of life He has granted us when we were in sin so that we might repent. We should have been plunged into hell if He had allowed us to die during that time. He will place before our eyes all the good thoughts, the good instincts, and the good desires that He has granted us during our life. So many graces despised! He will remind us of all the instructions which we have been allowed to receive, of all our Confessions and Communions, and the heavenly graces which we received in them. And we shall learn that so many Christians have not received the hundredth part of the graces that were given to us, and yet they sanctified themselves! Dear brethren, what has become of all our graces and blessings, what profit have we derived therefrom? What a sad moment that will be for a Christian who has despised them all, and derived no benefit from them! Is this your case? Listen to St. Gregory, who says: “My friend, consider this cross, and you will see what it cost God to merit life for us.” St. Augustine, when reflecting upon the accounting which we would have to give for all graces received, exclaimed: “How unhappy am I, what will become of me, having received so many graces! I am more afraid on account of these graces than on account of sins committed, although they are very numerous!” What shall we say, dear brethren, when Christ reproaches us with our contempt and our misuse of the merits of His most precious blood? “Woe to you, ungrateful sinner!” He will say, “thou unfruitful vine, thou barren tree! What could I have done for thy salvation that I did not do? Did I not have reason to expect that thou wouldst bear good fruit for eternal life? Where are thy good works? Where are thy prayers, which would have rejoiced My heart? Where are thy Confessions—the Communions which should have caused Me to dwell in thy soul, and which would have compensated Me in a measure for the sufferings which I endured for thy salvation? Where are thy penitential works for the wiping out of past sins? Where are the good results of the many good inspirations accorded thee, good thoughts and desires, and the many opportunities prepared for thee? Where are the Holy Masses through which thou wouldst have made satisfaction for thy sins? Depart, wretched soul! thou hast only performed works of unrighteousness to renew My passion and death. Depart from Me! I curse thee for all eternity! Depart! On the day of general judgement I shall proclaim the good thou should'st have accomplished, but hast not done, and all the graces which I granted thee, but thou hast not used.” What terrible reproach! How awful will this account be!
This judgement will take place before three witnesses:
before God, who will judge us;
our guardian angel, who will present our good works;
and Satan, who will reveal everything wicked which we have done during our lives!
After they have spoken, God will judge us, and decide our everlasting destiny. How great will be the fear of a poor Christian who awaits his judgement, and whose fate will either be heaven or hell!
If it is so dreadful, then, to give an account of even the graces which God gave us, what will it be when we shall be asked and judged according to our sins?
Perhaps you will say for your own consolation that you have not committed such monstrous sins. Perhaps not, in the eyes of the world; but how is it with your secret sins? Alas, how many unchaste thoughts and desires, how many thoughts of hatred, revenge, and envy, have soiled our mind and soul during a life of thirty, forty, or eighty years! How many thoughts of pride, of jealousy, how many desires to injure our neighbor, or to deceive him! And when it comes to sinful acts! When God asks us about certain unchaste actions, and certain shameful deeds, about unworthy Confessions and Communions, about our deceitfulness by which we have injured others!
|Led by the spirit of God||flesh|
|Sons of God||Children of the devil|
|Children of light||Children of the world|
|Crucifies his flesh and its concupiscence||follow the evil pleasures and the desires of corrupt nature, rather than the voice of faith and conscience.|
|Is inspired with filial confidence in God||Servile fear|
|Live eternally||Eternal death|
|Live in the present life but think of future life to come||Live in the present and think of only fleeting pleasures of this world without foresight to future life to come|
Who are represented by the rich man and his steward?
The rich man represents God, the steward is man, to whom God has confided the various goods of soul and body, of grace and nature: faith, intellect, memory, free will; the five senses, health, strength of body, beauty, skill, power over others, time and opportunity for good, temporal riches, and other gifts. These various goods of soul and body God gives us not as our own, but as things to be used for His honour and the salvation of man. He will therefore demand the strictest account of us if we use them for sin, luxury, seduction, or oppression of others.
Why did Christ make use of this parable?
To teach us that God requires of every man a strict account of whatever has been given to him, and to urge us to works of charity, particularly alms-deeds.
What friends do we make by alms-giving?
According to St. Ambrose they are the poor, the saints and angels, even Christ Himself: for that which we give to the poor, we give to Christ. (Matt. xxv. 40.) And: He that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and he will repay him. (Prov. xix. 17.) "The hands of the poor," says Peter Chrysologus, "are the hands of Christ," through whom we send our riches to heaven before us, and through whose intercession we obtain the grace of salvation.
Why did his lord commend the steward?
Because of his prudence and foresight, but not for his injustice; for he adds: The children of this world are wiser than the children of light: that is, the worldly-minded understand better how to obtain temporal goods than do Christians to lay up treasures for themselves in heaven.
Why are Riches called Riches of Iniquity?
AUG :Because they are riches only to the iniquitous and to those who place their hopes in them and the fullness of their happiness. But when they are possessed by the Just they constitute sum of Money.
Mammon of Iniquity
AMBR: Because avarice corrupts our dispositions by various enticements riches offer so that we are willing to serve riches.
Friends of (out of )mammon of iniquity:Make friends out of this mammon of inquity.
AMBR:by giving to the poor we may find favour with angels and saints. Poor don.t receive us but they become friends.
“This is why I persist, and if you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this. At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me: "What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?" I do not want to hear from his lips the terrible words "You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them." (p. 163)” ― Marcel Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics