Someone told a joke about a man who visited Israel and described to a friend that in Israel they have three Sabbaths each week: Friday for Muslims, Saturday for Jews, and Sunday for Christians. And then the friend responded, “Did you hear of the atheist who was converted? He was tired of being the only one who didn’t have a day off.”
In these last days, we have been hearing about what will look like an “everlasting day off” — our departure from the world to rest with God forever. I can imagine heaven being for me like my Tuesday day off. The only difference is that it will be eternal. While our readings today described the terrible things that will happen at the end of the world, Malachi and Jesus remind us that the just ones should not be afraid. That means that each of us should concern ourselves with how to live a holy life in order to go to heaven. Remember, what is important is not how one dies but whether he or she goes to heaven.
Malachi tells us that it is only those who fear the Lord and, as Jesus also puts it in the Gospel, only those who preserved the faith will be saved. Dearest ones, now is the time for each of us to take stock of how we have lived so far. Paul, in the second reading, reminds us that our lives affect others in the community. He asked the Thessalonians to imitate him and his companions.
Paul’s admonition brings home the truth about how we are connected to each other. If we do evil, people are influenced by our actions just as much as when we do good. Jesus warned us in the Scriptures about not being the cause of scandal for others. If we look at our lives now, can we in sincerity tell us others to imitate us? Will our influence bring them closer to Christ or take them further away from him?
As parents or grandparents, is your life having a positive influence on your kids and grandkids? Is it bringing them closer to Christ? One way to show a good example, as Paul tells us, is to avoid meddling in other peoples’ affairs. We are called not to be busybodies, interfering with other people’s lives. Rather than compounding peoples’ problems through gossip and slander, can we pray for them? Through prayer we can help others more.