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Friday, November 20, 2020
From the Desk of Fr. Ron……
Many of us who are employed have experiences of performance review. They are times that our immediate supervisor meets with us and evaluates our job skills, accomplishments, areas of challenge, etc. Often new goals and/or objectives are set that will become the foundation of future performance evaluation meetings.
Likewise, when one is in training for the ministerial priesthood a series of yearly evaluations occur. The candidate is required to evaluate themselves; faculty members weigh in and share their opinion, and peers are also selected to participate in the process. This process is not only focused upon one’s academic performance but on one’s personal adaptation, progress, and suitability to become a pastoral minister in the church. While these experiences are often uncomfortable, they are necessary and helpful in judging one’s aptitude and suitability for pastoral ministry.
Since early times in the church we have believed that Jesus died for us, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and that He will come back in glory. In the Apostle’s creed we profess our belief that Jesus will come again as judge of the living and the dead. Most times we don’t want to face that reality of a final judgement. Many fear the second coming as a time that all our sins would be made known and that we may forever lose our chance for eternal life with God Almighty and all in the kingdom.
The Gospel of Matthew gives us insight into the framework of that judgement. The first insight comes from the question put to Jesus concerning the greatest commandment of the law. In answer Jesus first quotes the most sacred text of the book of Deuteronomy, the call to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind. Secondly, He adds the directive from Leviticus to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Thus, Jesus makes a balanced equation of the two. This sets the stage then for the reflection concerning our own final judgement as described in this weekend’s passage from Matthew 25. In the passage many would ask “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” (Matthew 25:37-39). To these questions are two possible answers: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40), or “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45).
Throughout the Gospels Jesus declares the focus of our “final evaluation” of life. Let us not wait or be caught off guard for that final performance review. Rather let us live our lives in love of our ever-watchful God and care for each other with that same love with which we are loved. Then we have nothing to fear. Christ Jesus has died. Christ Jesus is Risen. Christ Jesus will come as judge of the living and the dead. Come Lord Jesus!