daily biblical sermons


THE RIGHTEOUS IN CHRIST WILL SHINE LIKE THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, 17th Week of the Year, July 30, 2015
Exod. 40:16-21, 34-38, Ps. 83, Matt. 13:47-53


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:49-50 NKJV).


As followers of Christ, we are a people of hope. We live in hope of a new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13). We long for the Parousia, the glorious second coming of Christ on the clouds of heaven with power and glory in great light to consummate all things. We also live in hope to be with Christ after our death, for he has promised us that if we believe in him, we will never die but will have eternal life with him (John 11:25-26). We long to be further clothed with our heavenly dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1-4) and to be with the Lord in his glory. "We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21, 23).


This is the perspective in which we live out our life of faith in Christ; that is, in hope for its final consummation with him in glory. "Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24:30-31).


Meanwhile we live out our life on earth, like so many fish caught by Christ and his apostles, who are fishers of men (Matt. 4:19), awaiting the final day when "the angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:50 NKJV). Those thrown into the fiery furnace are those who did not truly believe in Christ and give evidence of their belief in good works. Christ will not shield them from God's justice and righteous wrath for their sins. But "the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:43). They do not have to worry about their past sins. Because of their faith in Christ, God will apply Christ's reparation work on the cross to their former sins, and they will be acquitted, justified before God. They will be declared to be righteous through their faith, because of the reparation Christ made for their sins by his suffering their punishment for them on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24).


These are the righteous. Like St. Paul, they live now in joyful hope for the glorious coming of Christ to enter into glory with him. Like St. Paul, they long to be clothed with their heavenly dwelling and depart and be with Christ (2 Cor. 5:1-4, 8; Phil. 1:21, 23). They are friends of Christ who justifies them through their faith, apart from works (Rom. 3:20, 21, 28). They stand righteous before him and hope for his coming in glory; and they spend the rest of their earthly life growing in holiness. If they are not growing in holiness, then they are not really friends of Christ, and have not really been justified, and so have no grounds to hope that he will shield them from God's righteous wrath against them for their sins.


We who truly believe in Christ and show evidence of our belief by growing in holiness will continue to sin unwittingly and in small things, but as we again and again turn to Christ in faith and sorrow for our sins, confessing them, and calling upon him in faith, God will continue to justify us through our faith, apart from works, and declare us to be acquitted and righteous before him, because of Christ's reparation-making death on the cross; and so we will live in joyful hope for the Lord's coming on the clouds of heaven with power and glory in great light to consummate all things and to bring us into the fullness of his Father's kingdom.


So as friends of Christ, we live in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord, and even for our own day of death, when we will go out to meet Christ and be with him forever. This hope casts a joyful light upon our whole life, for we are looking forward to its joyful end in the fullness of God's kingdom, where "the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:43).

 

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