In today’s first reading, Moses sets about putting up a meeting tent as a place for the Lord to be among his people. The Lord never abandoned his people; he was present in a column of cloud during the day, and of fire at night. The presence of God helps us to focus on living a life that keeps us in communion with him. In today’s Gospel, Jesus points us to God’s presence at the end of time, when he would come in judgment of the nations, separating the good from the bad.
Today is the he feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the patron saint of moral theology. At the age of just sixteen, Alphonsus Liguori received degrees in both canon and civil law by acclamation. He later gave up the practice of law to concentrate on pastoral ministry, particularly giving parish missions and hearing confessions. He was noted for his writings on moral theology, particularly against the rigorism of the Jansenists. The Jansenists were a movement that developed after the Protestant reformation and the Council of Trent and emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. Alphonsus’s moral theology was much more accessible to the average person.
In 1732, Alphonsus formed the congregation of the Redemptorists, who had as their special charism the preaching of parish missions. They lived a common life dedicated to imitating Christ and reaching out to the poor and unlearned. Although they went through their own struggles as a congregation, they were reunited after Alphonsus’s death and are of course active today.
Alphonsus wanted to be sure the people came to know how to live a life that would lead them to God. Today’s readings give us that same call. Whether we are here in our modern-day meeting tent, or out and about in our daily life, it’s important that we continually seek the Lord’s presence. Then we know that we’ll be in the right place at the end of the age.