Reflection for Saturday, November 27, 1999: 34th week in Ordinary Time.
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I teach World Literature here at Creighton, and last week my students read Dante's Inferno. In Dante's vision Hell, of course, is populated with sinners. We spent two weeks in class talking about the people Dante imagined would end up in hell, and what they did on earth that would get them that eternal damnation. Throughout the 34 cantos there were hundreds of sinners and lots of different sins, but they all boiled down to one thing: these people put something else before God in their lives, then they didn't repent. All of the people in The Inferno could easily have avoided their fate. First, they could have put God first in their lives. If they slipped, and put something else before God, then all they had to do was to be sorry about that and remedy the situation. Confess and repent. Then they would have ended up, perhaps in Dante's Purgatory or Paradise.||The psalm today talks about giving praise and glory to God. If people start each day thanking God for the gift of the day, and give glory and praise to God throughout the day, that seems a pretty good step in putting God first in their lives. The psalm says that all people should give glory and eternal praise to him. Eternally praising God might not leave a lot of time for sinning.|My students were concerned about some of the characters in Dante's poem. Some died before they got a chance to repent, and the students thought that wasn't fair. Maybe they would have repented if they'd had the chance. But in the Medieval world view, those were the breaks. If you died with your sins on you, you went to hell. Jesus says in the Gospel, "Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. The great day will suddenly close in on you like a trap. The day I speak of will come upon all who dwell on the face of the earth. So be on the watch. Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect, and to stand secure before the Son of Man." No one knows exactly when that day will come, or when each individual will die. Everyone should live each day as if it were the day. Jesus says to be ready just in case. Those who get tied up with worldly cares, instead of giving glory and eternal praise to him, may wish they had more time to get their spiritual affairs in order.|With the year 2000 right around the corner, a lot of people are thinking the great day is here. Many movies out now are talking about religious themes and dealing with potential problems both worldly and spiritual. This might not be the "End of Days," but it might not be a bad idea, everyday, to take Jesus' words to heart and be on guard. Every day is the great day, and a great day to give glory and eternal praise to him.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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