Sunday after Easter 2002
Life is Short!
Ordinary of the Mass
Latin Mass Text-3rd Sunday
English Mass Text-3rd Sunday
St. Theresa of Avilla once remarked
that "Life is very much like a stop along a journey. We stop at an
inn for a refreshment, exchange a few pleasant words, and soon we are off
St. Theresa is reminding us that life
is short -- "70 is the sum of our years, or 80 if we are strong" -- a
few reach ninety or a hundred, bit no one reaches 200 -- she reminds us that
soon it will be over, and many of the things that now deeply concern us will
have become insignificant. Our Lord tells us essentially the same thing in
today's Gospel: He goes to the Father, and shortly we will join Him.
Whatever sorrow we have will be turned into joy.
Our Lord compares our leaving this life
to a new birth. For, just as childbirth entails pain but ends in joy, so
does our passage from this world into the next. We are frail creatures,
and the separation of body and soul is a difficult one for us ‑‑
filled with the foreboding of the unknown. But we must take heart for we
have our Lord's promise of eternal joy.
Sometimes the notion of our eternal
judgment frightens us -- And to some degree, it should ‑‑ for our
eternal fate depends upon it. But, on the other hand, we should realize
that Christ knows exactly what we are: That we are weak; that we are
sinners. And yet He still offers us this eternal happiness with Him in
heaven. He knows our shortcomings, and has prepared the remedy for them.
He gives us everything that is necessary to overcome our sinful natures and work
out our salvation through the Catholic Faith.
The law of God is clearly spelled out
for us in the Church's authentic teachings, we have no fear of offending God by
accident. And even though we are weak, we can obtain all of the graces
needed to overcome that weakness and keep God's law through the Mass and
Sacraments. In fact, if we make use of these gifts, we become positively
pleasing to God. We even have the means to be forgiven of our shortcomings
and failures in Sacramental Confession, and the means to do penance together
with the whole Church as it fasts and prays and abstains throughout the year.
In this morning's epistle, Saint Peter
give us some advice in light of this shortness of life. He describes us as
strangers and pilgrims in this world; tells us not to get too weighted down with
the things of the world. Not to become too involved with the "carnal
desires that war against the soul." He tells us not to get too
excited about the circumstances of our life on earth. We are to live life
as free men; not as slaves of the devil. What those of the world do is of
little consequence, as long as we can preserve the right and the ability to
remain close to God and partake of His graces.
But we are in the world. And St.
Peter does ask us to be a good example among the pagans, so that by observing
our example, they may be converted and save their souls as well. And, Lord
knows, there are pagans around us. But it makes little sense to get into
useless arguments with them -- good example is probably the most powerful tool
we can use to work for their conversion -- along with prayer for them, of
This Mass, then, presents us with an
important lesson. One to be remembered whenever the things of this life
get to be too much. Always remember the words of our Lord, reminding us
that life is short ... transitory:
"You have sorrow now ... but I
will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice
... and your joy no one shall
take from you."