Thursday, November 5, 2015

Get ready to tell the story

Clearly the Church in Rome to which St. Paul wrote was not all that different from any of our parishes churches today.  One of the problems that he had to deal was the tendency that we have to judge one another. He argument is simple, if we all belong to Christ, then why are we judging one another. Then he reminds us of a truth we all know but do not like to think about.

For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why then do you judge your brother or sister?
Or you, why do you look down on your brother or sister?
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
for it is written:

As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

The judge's bench is not the the thing in front of him , it is the thing he sits on. In the time of Jesus, in the Roman Empire, judges sat, the sign of  their office was the bema, the bench as we call it today.
St. Paul reminds us, at the end of our life, we stand before Christ, not as friend or bother, but has judge. We must, give an account of , literally give words to, the life we have lived.

Will we in rendering the account tell God anything he does not already know?  Of course not, we will be called to give the account because for ourselves there is something revelatory when we have to put something into words.  A part of the power of the sacrament of penance is that we say out loud to another the wrong we have done.  

Rattling around inside our own heads it is much easier for us to rationalize. When we use words to express what we have done, we come to a new level of comprehension.  

In our tribunal process, the first thing we have people do is write a summary, a kind of autobiography that tells the story of the two people and the marriage in question. I can't count the number of people who have said that: it was the hardest thing they have ever done, but they also came to a new level of understanding. They saw patterns and connections that they had not previously seen. 

Life is the greatest gift we ever receive.  And perhaps we would live it better, and waste less of it, if we reminded ourselves with some regularity that at the end, I as an individual am going to stand before God and render the account of how I lived the life I was given. Today live a life you would be proud to recount.