Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost AD 2005

 O almighty and everlasting God, who by chastening dost heal us and by forgiving dost preserve us, grant that we Thy suppliants may rejoice in the peace and consolation which we desire, and ever enjoy the gift of Thy mercy.  We beseech Thee, O Lord, that all wickedness being driven away from Thy house, the fury of the raging tempest may pass away.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

 “Our conversation is in heaven, from which we eagerly await a Savior,
our Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

    We know from the Scriptures that, on at least three separate occasions, our Lord restored the dead to life.  In today’s Gospel we read that He resurrected a young girl; the daughter of Jairus, the man who administered the local synagogue.  In the town of Naim He restored a young man to life; the only son of a widow living in that place.[3]  We even know that He was able to bring Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany, back to life after four days in the tomb.[4]  Like all of our Lord’s miracles, these three events testify to His divine mission, giving testimony to the fact that He was sent by God the Father to conquer sin and death.  Like all of His miracles, they point to the depth of His compassion, the pity He felt for the men and women who were subject to illness and mortality because of the original sin of Adam and Eve.

    Quite likely, our Lord arranged to perform these miracles also in order to prepare us for the supreme miracle of His own resurrection from the dead.  He knew in advance that His adversaries would claim that His death or His resurrection had been staged.  He knew that there would be detractors who would claim either that His death had been faked, or that His body had been stolen by His followers to make it only seem that He had risen on the third day.[5]

    The truth of the matter was of the utmost importance.  If our Lord had not risen from the dead, He would have been little more than the other wise men of the ancient world—He would have been a great teacher, a great philosopher, but He wouldn’t have been any much more significant than men like Socrates, or Confucius, or Buddha—men with an idea, but certainly not the Messias who would redeem their followers from the grasp of death.  That is why the authorities of the Temple went to the laughable length of bribing the guards at the tomb to say that His body had been stolen while they were asleep on their watch—as though sleeping men could be witnesses to anything;  as though the word of men who slept on duty was something of great value.  As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  “If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain: and your faith is also vain.”[6]

    Yet even the resurrection of our Lord Himself would have relatively little meaning for us poor human creatures if we had not been promised to share in it.  At least from the point of view of our own self interest, it would not mean much if all we could look forward to was our short span of years on earth, if that short span ended in nothing more than eternal darkness.  So it is of great importance to us to know that our Lord both had the power we read about today, and promised to use it on our behalf:  “The will of My Father is that I should lose nothing of what He has given Me, but that I should raise it up on the last day....  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting, and I will raise Him up on the last day.”[7]

    We have, therefore, the assurance which we profess whenever we recite the Creed:  “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen”  Yet there is another aspect to be considered.  It is our understanding that on the day of Judgment the entire human race will be resurrected—that includes the good as well as the bad.  The good will have a perfect body with which to enjoy the wonders of heaven.  The bad will also possess such a body, but it will be of no use to them other than to enable them more vividly to feel the punishments of hell.

    In order to avert the catastrophe of bodily punishment in hell, Saint Paul today gives us some advice.  We are to conduct ourselves as though we were already in heaven:  “Our conversation is in heaven, from which we await the Savior who will refashion the lowliness of our body.”[8]  The more modern translations say “our citizenship is in heaven”—the idea is the same:  we must live the spiritual life here on earth so that we are prepared to live it in heaven—not only prepared to live it, but assured that we will have it.

    It is altogether a mistake to think that we are capable of doing the things necessary to gain heaven without the graces of God.  Original sin has weakened our minds and diminished our wills.  We are not always able to recognize what we should do, and we often lack the will power to do it even when we do recognize it.   It is unreasonable to think that we are able to go through an entire lifetime doing what is pleasing to God with nothing more than our own limited abilities.

    But grace perfects nature.  God is not only willing to pardon us when we sin and contritely seek his forgiveness—He is willing and able and eager to give us strength so that we do not sin to begin with.  What is required of us is that we live our lives—so to speak—with one foot in heaven—that we live our lives as “citizens of heaven,” carrying on our “conversation” as though we were already in heaven.

    In the practical order of things, carrying on that “heavenly conversation” is brought about by frequent prayer and reception of the Sacraments ... it is brought about by making God and the things of heaven a central part of our lives.  Instead of “glorying in shame, making a god out of the belly, and minding the things of earth,” we must resolve to make Christ a part of our daily lives—As much as anything else we do.

    Next week we hope to celebrate the feast of Christ the King.  That feast (as originally instituted by the holy Pope Pius XI) comes during the liturgical year, in order to remind us that the “thousand year reign of Christ” mentioned in the Apocalypse is taking place here and now;  that it is not something that will happen after the world comes to an end, or even after our Lord’s Second Coming.[9]  Next week we will renew our Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Please consider during the coming week that this will be your annual opportunity to remind yourself and to tell our Lord that “we wish to live freely united to Him” here in this world, in preparation for the next.

 “Our conversation is in heaven,
from which we eagerly await a Savior,
our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[2]   Epistle  Phil. iii: 17-21;  iv: 1-3.  (Variant reading “Our citizenship is in heaven....“)

[3]   Luke vii: 11-16.

[4]   John xi: 1-45.

[5]   Matthew xxvii: 62-66;  xxviii: 11-15.  Koran:  Surah IV: 157-159.

[6]   1 Corinthians xv: 14.

[7]   John vi:  39, and 55.

[8]   Cf. Philippians iii: 20

[9]   Apocalypse xx: 2.  Cf. Saint Augustine, The City of God,  Bk. XX., Ch. 7.


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