Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Hilarion

Despite his best efforts to live in prayer and solitude, today’s saint found it difficult to achieve his deepest desire. People were naturally drawn to Hilarion as a source of spiritual wisdom and peace. He had reached such fame by the time of his death that his body had to be secretly removed so that a shrine would not be built in his honour. Instead, he was buried in his home village. St. Hilarion the Great, as he is sometimes called, was born in Palestine. After his conversion to Christianity he spent some time with St. Anthony of Egypt, another holy man drawn to solitude. Hilarion lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert, where he also experienced spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. At the same time, miracles were attributed to him. As his fame grew, a small group of disciples wanted to follow Hilarion. He began a series of journeys to find a place where he could live away from the world. He finally settled on Cyprus, where he died in 371 at about age 80. Hilarion is celebrated as the founder of monasticism in Palestine. Much of his fame flows from the biography of him written by St. Jerome.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke ( 12.39-48)

Jesus said, "Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him." Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants, will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Divine Judgment
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)

A great difference to the policing of traffic was made when speed cameras began to be installed. Now cameras are commonplace on our roads, and the issue facing motorists is to remember to watch for them. The likelihood of not noticing the camera surely induces the motorist to be very careful to observe the rules of the road. It was once canvassed in the New South Wales Parliament the possibility of installing numerous camera look-alikes all across the states, thus having the effect without having the expense. The aim was to educate the motorist to observe the law for fear of being caught. In a few countries the possession of certain drugs attracts capital punishment, and it is said that this law has had a dramatic effect on drug dealing there. The point I am making here is that the fear of being suddenly caught can induce a policy of compliance. The same pattern is present in other areas of life. For example, health authorities urge a universal screening for bowel cancer, for the disease can silently advance like a serpent approaching its prey. Then it strikes with deadly effect, the victim is caught unawares and his life is lost. Again, great efforts are made to establish warning systems for certain regions of the world against tsunamis. Those who manage the systems are on constant alert lest populations be caught unawares. Or again, whole nations build up a readiness against terrorist threats, for experience has shown that the innocent can be engulfed in sudden horror. The point is the same: if at all possible we must stand ready and not be caught off guard against the known threat. The threat is to life, for life is the dearest possession. But now, it is obvious that whatever man may do to protect his life from threats, he cannot ward off the coming of death, and he cannot ensure that death will not be sudden. The issue is, if death comes suddenly, will he be prepared for what follows death? This is the greatest question of all because the revealed fact is that what follows death is the Divine Judgment. No matter how advanced civilization becomes in a technological sense, the fact of threats and sudden death cannot be eliminated. At any point we can die. A person with the cleanest bill of health begins his walk in the tracks of New Guinea and on the way suddenly dies of a heart attack. No test predicted this eventuality. This pattern applies to every time and every place. So we do not know - as our Lord says in our Gospel today - at what hour the Son of Man is coming. What we must do is so live as to be ready, were the Son of Man to come suddenly. That is to say, we must live in the light of the Last Things which every man and woman will most assuredly face: death and the Divine Judgment. There is not very much about the future that we can be absolutely sure of. I am sure that if the average person who is well on in life were to look back to his childhood and youth, he would admit that he could never have predicted his future course. No, there is little of the future we can predict. But there are a few things that are absolutely certain. The first thing is that we shall die, and every passing second brings us closer to that most certain of future events. The second great certainty is that we shall face the awesome judgment of God our Creator and Redeemer. His searching gaze will bring to light in an instant all that we have thought, said and done. The books will be opened and the judgment made. Our Lord tells us in simple and figurative language the upshot of this single pivotal event in the existence of every person. “But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers” (Luke 12: 39-48). The wise and prudent person lives in the light of this tremendous reality. There is the glorious promise of heaven to those who love and serve God in the fulfilment of their duties in life. In our passage today our Lord speaks of God’s judgment and the threat of divine punishment. St Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church on the spiritual life, was shown her place in hell were she to fail to serve God and turn away from Him. What Christ says in today’s Gospel must be borne in mind. Let his words prompt us to keep close to God and to do all we can to save others from the risk of eternal damnation.

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