Eschatological Realism

Realismo Escatológico

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
December 04, 2006

Jesus said to the chief of the Pharisees who had invited him to dinner: “Whenever you give a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or wealthy neighbors. They might invite you in return and thus repay you. No, when you have a reception, invite beggars and the crippled, the lame and the blind. You should be pleased that they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.” -- Luke 14:12-14.

“Eschatology” is the study of the “last things” -- death, judgment, heaven and hell. The Church speaks of these matters in order to train us to think of them as real. The more we do that, the more strength we find to shape our lives today in such a way that death and judgment will bring us to the joys of heaven. I call it “eschatological realism,” that is, the habit of taking into account today the “last things” in a way that’s just as real and influential on us as today’s weather.

Jesus advocated “eschatological realism” in the passage quoted above. He said that a consideration of what we would receive on the day of the resurrection should influence whom we invite to our next dinner party. And what he said also applies to our pro-life work. After all, the principle is the same. Just as we should be happy that the beggars whom we welcome to dinner cannot repay us, so we should be happy that the unborn children, for whom we speak and work and fight, also cannot repay us. “You should be pleased that they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.” The unborn are even less able to repay us than the beggars and the crippled and the lame and the blind. At least these people know that we are loving them, and can say “Thank you” and can pray for us. But the unborn cannot do any of those things. Indeed, love for the unborn is the most selfless form of love. Nothing comes from them in return.

Congressman Henry Hyde, one of the greatest pro-life advocates ever to serve in Congress, expressed this eschatological realism in relation to pro-life work when he uttered these famous words:

"When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God -- and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there'll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world -- and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, 'Spare him, because he loved us!'"

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