We will all die. That’s the hardest fact of life, probably the most certain fact of all. There was a time when you did not exist and there will come a time when you will not exist on this Earth. You will eventually be forgotten and your bones will turn to dust. What good then will our property, our clothes, books, DVDs, knick-knacks and heirlooms be to us? There are no pockets in a shroud. You can bring nothing with you when you leave this life except what you have done, good or bad. That is the treasure that our Lord wants us to worry about. Have we invested a store of good with Him or a store of evil with the other fellow? What is more important to us: where we will spend eternity or where and how we can we can next enjoy ourselves?
At the very moment you and I cease our life on this Earth we will face God and give an account of our life. When this will be you and I do not know. It could be at the end of a long life to come or this very day. When the Lord will come for us none but a few ever know. That will be the particular judgement when each us dies and faces God. Be assured that you will not be asked about the Olympics, or how Cork are doing! These things will no longer matter. They belong to this world. As one man who had a near-death experience said “When you are dead all your priorities are different. What you cared about here you will not care about there!” Those who are just will enter Heaven, the less just will be purified through the sufferings of Purgatory and the unjust will be driven from God’s Presence into the horrors of Hell. In fact the latter will flee God’s Presence for they will be unable to endure Him.
There will be another Judgment though at the end of time when our Lord will come suddenly upon the whole world and all will be judged whether they are alive or dead at the time.
Therefore we need to be ready, all the time. We are unlikely to get a warning. It is true that God will call us when we are closest to salvation but that does not mean our salvation is guaranteed. Our behaviour might mean that the Lord can call us only when He can guarantee us the least suffering. The Lord has warned us in the Scriptures, in the teaching of the Church and the lives and writings of the saints that we need to live holy lives. We have no excuse. God is not found wanting in grace or mercy and will always help those who ask Him to. We cannot continually ignore His commandments, the invitation of His grace, and still expect entry into His Kingdom. How many Catholics today give more than a few minutes a day to prayer? How many actively seek to do good to those around them? How many support so-called gay marriage, use contraception, or defraud others? How many deliberately miss Mass on a Sunday and then receive Communion the following weekend without first going to Confession? Indeed how many Catholics go to Confession at all? We will have no excuses when the Lord calls for us nor when He comes in glory to judge the living and the dead.
The Fathers of the Church believed that when our Lord says “watch” and “stay awake” and St Paul says “Pray always” they meant what they said. And it possible to do so as many saints have shown. Do not say to yourself that that’s for saints and not for ordinary folk. If you want to get to Heaven you must become a saint and there are many ordinary folk who have become saints by following the path of watchfulness. Sanctity is rare not because it is too hard but because we are too lazy, too faithless, or too proud to try to change. We won’t make the effort and then tell ourselves it is too hard. This is falling spiritually asleep and it leads to spiritual death.
The Lord is urging us to wake up and take our faith seriously. It is hard but it is not impossible. The way is narrow only if we try to bring all the unimportant things in life with us. It is hard only if we try to resist the process of change. The Lord is pouring out His graces upon us and offering His mercy in abundance. We lack no help and the only one who can stop anyone of us entering Heaven is our self. We are the biggest obstacle we must overcome.
We can start by giving more time to prayer, to learning about our Faith and giving more time to care for others. Remember that what we do to and for others Christ our Lord will count as done to or for Him. We can examine our conscience every evening and see how God has blessed us and where we have failed. We can avail of the Sacraments especially Confession and Holy Communion. We can, through, doing good for the living and praying and sacrificing for the dead, store up real treasure in God’s Kingdom, treasure that will not rust or wear out, that will wait for us and be with us for all eternity.