Reward and punishment
As we approach the final days of the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, certain expressions and notions — if there really are — need to be taken into account in order to clarify some difficulties they may pose to the readers or hearers.
One very significant example is found in the way the Final Judgment is understood or perceived as it resurfaces in the scriptural readings in the subsequent days, just as this is the main direction of today’s First Reading, Daniel 12:1-3, and Gospel Reading, Mark 13:24-32.
For most of us, whenever the idea of Judgment or of “the” Final Judgment is discussed, we tend to focus on the side of “punishment” and eternal damnation.
Well, that is also true.
No problem about it.
No doubt at all about it.
However, Judgment is not only about punishment.
Judgment is also about reward.
And this is the aspect we usually miss, for the reason that we are easily taken down by pessimism and discouragement.
In fact, there are preachers or evangelists who capitalize on this fear dimension of the message.
Consequently, we lose sight of why the gospel message is a Good News.
And this Good News cultivates and enhances faith in every believer so that hope becomes alive even as we go through so many testing times.
Since we know — as is always reminded and constantly reiterated to us — we are finite beings, in view of what lies ahead, we have to prepare.
We must responsively embrace the truth of our finality by a thorough preparation.
But how can we really prepare thoroughly if fear becomes the motivation?
Now, how about the good deeds that we do or have done?
This is basically where faith inspires, hope sustains, and love empowers.
It is in these good deeds, huge or little yet significant — for there is no such thing as “insignificant” good deed — that we remain constantly prodded and challenged to continue living our lives, and slowly but surely edge our direction through the pathways of life in our faith-journey.
Real and authentic motivation, without faking whatsoever it entails, always leads anybody to a heartfelt reponse.
Even amidst turmoils and discouraging realities, our strivings to do good consistently make a difference.
Fear may just be around the bend, yes, precisely because as human beings we constantly grapple with it.
But as we come to terms with the more weighty matters that any good deed and striving can bring, fear would just fizzle out as it becomes integrated into the very process of performing a good deed.
After all, it is the goodness in all of us that sustains hope here and hereafter.
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