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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Our Final Trial

by Fr. David M. Knight


June 8: Saturday of the Ninth Week of the Year

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lectionary 356

2 Tm 2:8-15/Mk 12:28-34

  

2Timothy 4:1-8 ends on the same note as the Our Father. Paul is looking ahead to his death, as the last petition Jesus taught us to make looks ahead to the final, cosmic “trial” that will precede Christ’s return in triumph.


The traditional translation, “Lead us not into temptation,” is misleading. First, God does not “lead” anyone into temptation. And “temptation” here refers not to personal temptations, but to the final “trial” in battle with Satan. [i]


Each of us, however, will face a “final trial” of faith, hope and love at the hour of death. Death is our “greatest act of freedom,” because when it comes we must accept it with the free, wholehearted welcome Jesus gave on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” To say this “Yes” willingly, we have to rise to the fullness of faith in Christ’s words, hope in his promise, and love for God above all that we are leaving behind, including life as we have experienced it so far.[ii]


In the “Yes” we say to death, the total abandonment that is the final phase of our spiritual growth reaches full and irrevocable perfection.


Historical note: The devout but rigid Catholics led by Bishop Cornelius Jansen, whom St. Pius X called a “pestilence” and a “virus” in the Church, were terrified that when they faced this trial at death they would not have the grace of “final perseverance.” The famous “twelfth promise” Jesus made through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (died 1690) to those devoted to his love as portrayed in the image of his Sacred Heart was a response to that:


The all-powerful love of my Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.


God used people’s baseless fear to start a custom that spread throughout the world. For many it was a beginning that led to the practice of daily Mass and Communion, the “undiscovered treasure” of the Catholic Church.


 Decision: Pretend you are dying. What do you find it hardest to leave? Why?


[i] See Raymond Brown, “The Pater Noster as an Eschatological Prayer,” in New Testament Essays, Doubleday (Image) 1968, p. 316. The New Zealand bishops have corrected the text used in Mass to read “Subject us not to the trial.”

[ii] See Matthew 16:24-27. In this context the radical demands of Luke 14:26-33 appear as conditions all must meet in their literal sense eventually.


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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