Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Third Sunday after Easter—15 May A.D. 2011

What To Do For A Little While

 Ordinary of the Mass
Latin Mass Text-3rd Sunday
 English Mass Text-3rd Sunday

“A little while, and now you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me, because I go to the Father.”{1}

   These words from today's Gospel were originally spoken by our Lord at the Last Supper.  One might understand them to refer to the period of time between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the period during which no one would see Him, and then would see Him again.  Even the words “because I go to the Father” might be interpreted in the light of tradition as meaning that during this three day period our Lord would go down into the Limbo of the Just, and bring the righteous dead of the Old Testament to the throne of His Father in heaven, sometime before His Resurrection.

   But it is more likely that our Lord is speaking about the time beginning with His Ascension into heaven and ending with the general judgment and resurrection of the dead at the end of time.  Elsewhere in Saint John's account of the Last Supper, we read that our Lord promised to send an “advocate,” “the Paraclete,” “the Holy Ghost,” “the Spirit of Truth” to be with the Apostles in His absence.{2}  And we know that, indeed, He did send the Holy Ghost to Confirm the Apostles and His holy Mother on the feast of Pentecost, which fits into this time period before the general judgment.

   Our Lord described this period as one of difficulty and persecution:  “They will put you out of the synagogues ... whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.”{3}  But, like the difficulty of a woman in labor, it would be followed with a time of rejoicing:  “you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.”{4}  But, from what we have just seen, this time of permanent rejoicing will come only after the general judgment and resurrection.  What are we to do in the meantime?

   Part of the answer to that question is found in today's Epistle, in which Saint Peter, the first Pope tells us:

   “to refrain [our]selves from carnal desires which war against the soul,” to do good works, so that those seeing us will glorify God, and to put up  with those in authority, especially those “sent ... for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good....  For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men”  being “free, [but] not making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God.  Honour all men.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honour the king.  Servants, be subject to your masters....”{5}

   Elsewhere, in Saint Matthew's Gospel our Lord tells us what it means to “do well” and to “do good works.”{6}  Our Lord distinguishes those who have done good for Him, by doing good for those in need, who will be rewarded in the Kingdom of Heaven—from those who did not do good for Him, who did not aid those in need, and who will not share the eternal joy of heaven with Him.

   I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.  You did not do these things for Me when you did not do them for My little ones, the least of your brethren.
    And these [the unjust] shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

   Faith in the things God has revealed to us, and the keeping of His Commandments are the beginning of the Catholic religion.  Likewise the reception of the Sacraments, and the strengthening given through the grace of the Advocate, the Holy Ghost.  But that Faith must be perfected in good works—as Saint James tells us:

   What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works?  Shall faith be able to save him?  And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food:  And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?  So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.  But some will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith.  Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.{7}

   The devils also believe and yet tremble”!  The devil does not believe in God through grace, nor does he believe in God as an abstraction that he learned about in his catechism.  The devil knows God with absolute certainty, because he has met Him face to face.  He has no alternative but to believe.  But his “faith” does him no good, for he has revolted against God.

   And not only has he revolted against God, but desires that “the little ones,” the least of our brethren, rise up with him and lose their souls with him in eternal damnation.  Clearly, he believes, but has every reason to tremble!

We who believe in God, have a simple, yet important, choice to make.  We can practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy:  To feed the hungry;  to give drink to the thirsty;  to clothe the naked;  to harbour the harbourless;  to visit the sick;  to ransom the captive;  to bury the dead. To instruct the ignorant;  to counsel the doubtful;  to admonish sinners;  to bear wrongs patiently;  to forgive offenses willingly;  to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead.  Or, we can choose to tremble!

   Our opportunities to do these things will vary from person to person and from time to time.  Sometimes there will be no need;  sometimes we will have no resources.  But when there is need and we have the resources to fill that need, we must be like the just souls in Saint Matthew's parable:  doing for Christ by doing for the least of our brethren.  Otherwise, like the devils, we can “believe, and yet tremble.”


5  Cf. Epistle: 1 Peter ii: 11-19

7  James ii: 14-20.





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