By Rev. Ray Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
Death and Judgment
“By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wreath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” ~ Romans 2:5-8
A stingy lawyer died and was sent up to Heaven. He expected to receive a great reward for the life he had lived. He managed to get several people off death row, and helped many innocent folks escape punishment for unjust charges. But along the way, he neglected his relationship with God, did not live a good Christian life, and died barely believing in the Almighty. When he went through the pearly gates, Saint Peter walked with him down a long boulevard to a tiny shack that was to be his “mansion” for eternity. Next door was a beautiful mansion with gorgeous windows, a reflecting pool, and the most magnificent architecture imaginable. The lawyer asked, “Who lives there?” Peter’s answer: “Saint Teresa of Calcutta.” The lawyer responded, “Why does she get this lovely mansion and I have to spend eternity in a shack?” Peter replied, “She will live there because she sent the material up from the good works of her life. As for you, this is the best mansion we could build with the material you sent us.”
Death is the end of earthly life. Christians believe in life after death because we believe that each of us has an immortal soul that lives in the next life. One day each of us will go before the tribunal of God, and receive the reward of our works. In other words, how did we live out our faith in God? How did we respond to God’s grace?
The New Testament speaks of judgment in terms of a final encounter with Christ in His Second Coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each person will be rewarded “immediately after death in accordance with is works and faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1021). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus illustrates the different destinies of each person (cf. Lk. 16:22-23).
What will be your destiny? What kind of mansion do you want to spend in eternity? It all depends on the choices you make here and now. May we send up good material for whatever mansion we will inhabit while we still have time.