We are what we choose (Mon of Lent 1)

Monday of the First Week of Lent


Lev 19:1-2,11-18  ;  Ps 18  ;  Matthew 25:31-46

Let us pray

O LORD who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights: give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit; we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Last Judgement by Michelangelo



Today we hear the Parable of the Final Judgement (Matthew 25: 31-46). It begins:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes…’
Jesus is talking about the end of chronological time. He is talking about the moment that heralds in eternity. Eternity is qualitatively different from chronological time. At the end of time there is no chance for us to be anything other than what we are.

The trouble with talking about this parable is the modern dislike for the idea that God judges us at all. In the mind of modern man it seems to imply that God has a list of rules and if we disobey these rules we will be punished. Of course this image of God is a faulty one.

So what is divine judgement like? What our Lord says is that it is like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. What are we to make of that though? I think the key to understanding what our Lord is saying is actually quite simple. Sheep are what they are! Goats are what they are!

This is not predestination, rather, once we have reached the end of time nothing can change in us. Then we are who we are. Chronological time is God’s gift to us. Time is God’s gift for us to change. Time is the divine gift for us to freely make the choice for eternity with God.
Finally what our Lord reminds us is that what we choose is revealed by our actions. Remember St James exhorts us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

So in this time of Lent think about time – remember you are using God’s gift of time, the time in which we become who we are through our choices, through what we do and think. The choices we make, and most of all the choice whether to use the grace given to us or not, will determine who we are at the end. God forgives and God can heal the wounds of sin, but we must choose whether to cooperate with His grace or not.  At the end of time we get what we chose – that is Judgement!

 Let us pray
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. 

Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.