Bottom line: Jesus' Resurrection shows that eternal life continues something which begins in this life: a relationship with the Father, founded on the desire to do his will.
Happy Easter! This year we have a unique Easter. It will not come this early for another 150 years - 2160 to be exact. I don't know about you, but I plan on spending that Easter in a different place! I want you to be with me. I am your spiritual father. I have no greater desire than that we spend eternity together.
That raises a question: What is eternal life? We get some glimpse on Easter Sunday - and throughout the fifty days of the Easter season. Jesus has been transformed in a radical way - and so will we, in him. But, in spite of the great change, there will also be continuity. Eternal life will continue something that begins in this life. A week ago, on Palm Sunday, we received some hints. We heard Jesus' prayer, "Not as I will, but your will be done!" He accepted the Father's will even though it meant horrendous suffering. And St. Paul told us that because of his obedience, the Father greatly exalted him. For Jesus eternal life means perfect union with the Father's will.
Something similar applies to you and me. Eternal life means that we become sons and daughters of God - in Jesus. This is a hard concept to grasp. The Italian poet, Dante Alighieri can help us. He wrote a beautiful poem called the Divine Comedy. It tells about his journey into the depths of hell, then his arduous climb up the seven story mountain of purgatory. Finally he gets up to spheres of heaven. The lowest sphere of course belongs to the moon. In that sphere are those who broke their vows, but repented before they died. There Dante meets a woman who he recognizes. Piccarda is her name. Dante asks her if the souls on this lowest sphere aren't perhaps a little bit unhappy, maybe they yearn for a higher place in heaven. But Piccarda gently smiles and she seems "to glow with the first fire of love." She explains to Dante that the essence of heaven is to dwell within God's holy will. Then she speaks what is the most famous single verse in the Divine Comedy, "In his will is our peace."
His will is our peace. This does not mean God absorbs or destroys our individual wills. What it means is that a person discovers the the power and freedom of his own will - by aligning it with God's will.
Heaven, eternal life, means to embrace the Father's will - in Jesus. That has to begin now, here on earth, or it will never begin. At the start of Lent - on Ash Wednesday - I gave you a quote from St. Alphonsus Liguori, "Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned." You can find that quote in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (#2744) If you pray, you are saved; if not, you are lost. What that means is that our relationship with God begins now.
I encourage you during these fifty days of Easter to find some time apart for prayer. Our Blessed Sacrament Chapel is good place. It is open twenty-four hours a day. You will not regret the time you spend in prayer. Perhaps you heard about the two men who were chopping trees. One man chopped for eight hours straight. The other chopped for fifty minutes, then rested for ten and started again. The second man chopped down more trees. How did he do it? He was not stronger than the first man. When they asked him his secret, he said, "During my breaks, I sharpened the ax." Take time to pray. Everything will go better. But above all you will desire to embrace the will of the Father - in Jesus. In his will is our peace. I would like to conclude this Easter homily with a bit longer quote from Dante:
Think carefully about what love is and you'll see such discord has no place within these rounds, since to be here is to exist in Love. Indeed, the essence of this blessed state is to dwell here within His holy will, so that there is no will but one with His. In his will is our peace - it is the sea in which all things are drawn that it itself creates or which the work of Nature makes.
From Archives (Easter homilies):
Easter Vigil Homily: "At the entrance was something like a small swimming pool with three steps leading down one side and three steps leading up the other. At the Easter vigil they were led into the pool. The priest asked..."
The Meaning of the Resurrection: "Forgiveness is the one new thing that has entered the world. Without forgiveness human history is bleak. Frederick Nietzsche the philosopher who stated 'God is dead,' thought the driving force of history is resentment..."
THE EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ HISTORICAL RESURRECTION (For Seekers, For Those Who Know Him, And For the Plain Skeptical)
Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
One of our neighboring pastors, Rev. Gary Jensen of Shorewood Lutheran has written a nice pamphlet on the Evidence for Jesus' Historical Resurrection
Bulletin (Week of Divine Mercy, Royal College of Psychiatrists on abortion risk to mental health, Obstetric & Vascular Doppler for Mary Bloom Center)
Parish Council Minutes (Feb. 14 meeting)
Times for Holy Week Confessions (including Holy Saturday)
Pilgrimage to St. James Cathedral
Beyond Tribal Faith, Mark Shea on Kathleen Deveny's Newsweek article:
Deveny boasts, "As a cafeteria Catholic, I don't accept all the tenets of my religion. Someday I will encourage her to think critically, not doctrinally, about issues like artificial birth control, stem-cell research and abortion.
This brings us to the heart of the trouble. For, being translated, it means I am ignorant and proud of it. I will teach my daughter to uncritically reject what the Church says before ever finding out what that is.
It is not the ignorance, but the pride, that is deadly.
St. Mary of the Valley Album
my bulletin column
Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith - Presentation for Monroe Christian Pastor. (For pdf format click here)
Background for presentation on "Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith": High School Course – World Civilization - Section on origins of Christianity. (For pdf format click here)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish
WYD Fund Raiser at Hacienda Restaurant