As the liturgical year draws to a close, the readings become apocalyptic, drawing our attention to the end of time, when we will enter eternity. The gospel parable describes Christ’s saving mission to redeem human history. The “man going on a journey” is Christ himself, and the journey upon which he embarks is his return to heaven at the Ascension. He entrusts his servants with “talents,” with graces and gifts to build up his kingdom on earth before his return. The parable says: “after a long time” he returned. It’s been 2000 years, and because Christ has been gone for so long, we naturally begin to forget Him, to doubt that He even existed. When the Son of Man returns, Jesus asks, “will He find any faith on earth?”
Using His gifts
We don’t know when He will return, or why He is taking so long, but we do know that he expects us to use our gifts. Each of us have been given two powers unique to human beings: intellect (the ability to reason rightly) and will (the capacity to choose the good in accord with right reason). Some are given greater intellectual gifts and some greater motivation of will, and some less. Some of the brightest and strongest-willed people in the world live here in San Francisco, working for the most successful corporations in history. Some use their God-given talents to build up both the City of Man (which will pass) and the City of God (which is eternal). Some use their powers only to build up the secular city, which will ultimately be consigned to the dustbin of history. All of us, to some degree, squander too much of our time and energy only on what will pass because we don’t think long-term. Our minds are limited to immediate wants and desires: tasty food, human affection and sexual pleasure, a big warm house with a view of the Bay, an education that will get me a lucrative career, top-notch healthcare. Obtaining these things is important, but obtaining heaven and avoiding hell is infinitely more important. We need to hear Christ say, when he returns, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.”
Last week I attended a silent retreat in Detroit preached by the fathers of Opus Angelorum, the “work of the Holy Angels.” My old friend, Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, gave excellent talks, led many hours of prayer, and finally on Friday received our Consecration to All the Angels. “Consecration” means entering a covenant, and forging an alliance, with that which is Holy. First we consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and then to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and perhaps to St. Joseph. But we must not forget to consecrate ourselves to God’s angels, that immense order of being called "supernatural." We need the help of the good angels, and they need our help, to build the kingdom on earth in preparation for heaven.
All time between Christ’s First and Second Comings are “the end times.” He could return at any moment. But without doubt things are heating up. America is at a turning point as we witness the rule of law collapsing. Open looting of stores, unchecked riots, and disregard for the Constitution manifest a steep decline of the social order. The wealthiest corporations now exercise a dictatorial control over how we think and what we buy. The Catholic Church, too, is marked by corruption and deceit at the highest levels. Disunity and deceit are two clear markers of the demonic, whose very name means “to separate,” and whom Christ calls “the father of lies.” We must be sure that the war we are fighting is not with flesh and blood, but with the powers of the air. And we are losing this war. To survive the time of great distress, the Body of Christ on earth needs to make alliances with the Body of Christ in heaven. God has endowed angels with intellect and will that far surpass ours, and God has given them to help us. But we must ask for their help, and pledge our docility to their guidance. We must make strategic alliances with both our own guardian angels and all the angels. How to do that will be the topic of an ongoing course that I will provide to all in the parish in the months to come. Let me finish with the consecration prayer I made on Friday:
O Holy Angels of God, here, in the presence of the Triune God and in the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, I, a poor sinner, want to make a covenant with you, who are his servants, so that in union with you, I might work with humility and fortitude for the glory of God and the coming of his Kingdom. Amen.