When I was in Guadalajara for the Eucharistic Congress, I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Mexican Martyrs. It gives the life stories of twenty-five men killed when a hostile Mexican government attempted to neutralize the Catholic Church. Two of the martyrs particularly caught my attention. One was a middle aged priest named Cristóbal Magallanes Jara. The other, Agustín Caloca Cortés, was recently ordained. Government soldiers arrested them and told them they would be put to death within a few days. However, the soldiers informed them that they could escape execution by publicly renouncing their faith. On the morning of their execution the younger priest saw the firing squad preparing the rifles. He began to have second thoughts that perhaps he did want to die so young. The older priest said to him, “Animo. Take courage. Soon we will be together in heaven.”
On May 25, 1927, Fr. Cristobal and Fr. Agustin did die together. They were also canonized together by Pope John Paul in the year 2000. St. Cristóbal Magallanes and St. Agustín Caloca are saints for the new millennium. We need their example of courage and surrender to God’s will. We need to look at our lives in light of eternity. Soon we will be together in heaven.
Some people consider this viewpoint to be defeatist: That instead of trying to make things better here on earth we will spend all our time thinking about heaven. But, you know, ironically, those who think about heaven are often the ones who do the greatest good for their fellow human beings here on earth. In our country, the most effective hospitals, schools, homes for the outcast were built by people like St. Frances Cabrini – a religious sister who lived each day in the hope of eternal life.
During the month of November the Church directs our attention to the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. This meditation helps us to live for God and for the good of others. Today, for example, we see the magnificent witness of the seven brothers who accepted torture and death rather than betray their faith. Jesus tells us that those who have died – such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – are now alive in God.
These thoughts should inspire us to be good Stewards of the gifts God has entrusted to us. It has been said that the only things we can take with us to the next life are the things we have given away. The great English evangelist, John Wesley, stated it starkly, “When I die if I leave behind me ten pounds...you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” Wesley was echoing the words of early Christian writers such as St. John Chrisostom who said that after we have taken care of our needs – which are almost always less than we imagine them to be – everything else belongs to the poor. Wesley not only gave the poor his meager financial resources, but his seeming limitless energy and compassion. When he was in his seventies, Londoners still saw the gaunt man walking with food and bundles of clothes to take to the poor. John Wesley lived for heaven, but did enormous good for his fellow men here on earth.
This Sunday I have asked one of our parishioners to give a witness to how they have responded to the call of being a good steward of God’s gifts – time, talent, treasure. I am not saying this person is another John Wesley, but, who knows? All of us can do great things. Placing ones lives completely in God’s hands can be a little bit scary. But remember St. Cristóbal’s words: “Animo. Take courage. Soon we will be together in heaven.” With that I ask you to give you full attention to the following testimony.
From Archives (32nd Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies CBulletin (Meeting with Archbishop, Stewardship Testimonies, Post Election Reflection)
Churches planning election messages
Who said: “If They’re Pro-Choice and They’re Democrat, They’re My Kind of Candidate."?
Who’s Delegitimizing Whom?
Steven Greydanus' review of Thérèse
What then should we do?
Mark Shea on The Parable of the Dishonest Steward
The Divine Comedy and Politics
Few realized when "Small is Beautiful" was published that E.F. Schumacher’s economic theories were underpinned by solid religious and philosophical foundations, the fruits of a lifetime of searching. In 1971, two years before the book’s publication, Schumacher had become a Roman Catholic, the final destination of his philosophical journey.
About President Bush's Re-Election:
The Catholic church dodged a bullet with Kerry's defeat
Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are.
I basically hold with the remark of the curial cardinal who remarked a couple of weeks ago that, however it was the baby was conceived, the fact is: it's been born and needs to be taken care of. (it = Iraq war)
"[M]ore than half of Bush's voters cited moral issues as a principal reason for their support — more than any other issue, including even terrorism."
And from Seattle's Liberal Larry: Lesson Learned: Americans are Dumb
Parish Picture Album
Evidence for God's Existence from Modern Physics (MP3 Audio File)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Resources for Geography of Faith
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
KRA's & SMART Goals (updated November 2013)