Daily Reflection for Monday, November 21, 2022
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,
We encourage you to reflect on Monday’s readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: Revelation 14:1-3.4b-5
Responsorial: Psalm 24:1bc-2,3-4ab,5-6
Gospel: Luke 21:1-4
Our reflection on Monday’s readings:
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Revelation 14:4
The verses from Revelation that we read today have always frightened me. I remember hearing these as a child and thinking that if only 144,00 out of all the billions of people who ever lived would be admitted to Heaven, then I did not stand a chance. Why would only these people make it and the rest of us would be left outside in the dark wailing and gnashing our teeth?
What connects this reading with the feast for today, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary? I used to think that it was unfair that Mary was created without sin, never tempted by all the things that trip me up. If I had that kind of head start, I would feel better about my chances of being included in that white-robed number. But I now realize that it was not that she was created to be perfect, with no choice in the matter. God saw that she was the only human who would ever be capable of always living within his will. That did not mean it would be easy for her. She would experience temptation, but overcome it. She would endure the unimaginable grief of watching her child be tortured and murdered and yet not despair. She would trust God, and follow him wherever he led her.
We have just celebrated the feast of All Souls on November 2. It struck me as I pondered the meaning of this feast that it is actually a very hopeful feast for me and anyone else who worries that they won’t be among the 144,000 Saints who go marching in. Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, “If there were no Purgatory, we would have to invent it, for who could dare to say that he was able to stand directly before God?” In His mercy, God allows us to get a second chance to put things right, once we have seen what our choices in life have cost us. In Purgatory, we will be the people longing to see the face of the Lord, as the Psalm says, because we have been given a glimpse of the glory of the Lamb that will make us long to rid ourselves of anything that will keep us from following Him forever. The 144,000 are those who, like Mary, got it right the first time. It is not a zero-sum game where they win and we lose. We can be assured that all those Saints and Our Mother Mary will be cheering us on in our struggle.
Lord, lift us up, dust us off and set our feet back on the right path when we stumble.