|Click on image to go to site from which I "borrowed" this.|
The first reading shows us incredible courage on the part of
seven brothers on trial for their fidelity to the Lord God.
But don’t miss one key ingredient in their fortitude:
they are supremely confident of the Resurrection.
They know they, and their persecutors, will face a Judgment Day,
and they are certain God will give them
a share in the Resurrection to Life.
Somewhere recently I saw someone ask this question:
Can you name three things for which
you would be willing to give your life?
How many of us know the answer to that question?
And is our Catholic Faith one of them?
Of course, it makes all the difference whether or not
you believe that there is life after this one;
that you and I will get our bodies back, and –
if we place our faith in Jesus Christ and cooperate with his grace
and live as he teaches us, repenting of our sins
– we will have a share in the Resurrection to Life.
That changes everything. There are only two possibilities:
either this is all we get, and therefore, when we die, that’s the end;
or, this is a prelude to something more.
And all of us live according to one belief-system or the other,
even if we don’t think about it very much.
So, you can say, “Oh, I’m not very religious” or,
“I don’t have time to work all that out”;
But in any case, how you live day-by-day tells the true story.
Is this world my true home? Or am I just passing through?
So that brings us to our annual celebration
of Forty Hours of adoration of Jesus on the altar.
We began our time of exposition
of the Most Holy Eucharist Friday morning,
and it will continue till 9 pm on Saturday,
and conclude at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon.
This devotion began in the 1500s
with the blessing of Pope Paul III, with the purpose of
“appeas[ing] the anger of God provoked by the offences of Christians,”
and to seek God’s help against those
“pressing forward to the destruction of Christendom…”
That sounds about right!
Boy are there a lot of offenses by Christians before God,
while our foes press hard on every side.
The anchor of our hope is Jesus Christ, and his Resurrection.
Once again, the choice is binary. Either he really lived, or it’s all a fake.
Either he really rose from the dead, or it’s all a lie.
Jesus said, “This is my Body…this is my Blood”:
those are HIS words, and so either he truly gives us
his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist –
and therefore, the Eucharist is our Lord Jesus, our Lord God! –
Or else it’s all nothing.
You and must decide: what do we believe? What do we live for?
It gets harder to be a faithful Christian every day.
We think we’re isolated and protected in Russia,
and we are to some extent, but don’t kid yourself.
The ground is shifting under our feet even as we speak.
Sooner or later, each one of us will face a moment
when we must take a stand;
it will probably be a small thing, at our place of work,
or at a party with friends, or a family situation;
hardly a life-or-death situation.
Yet in that moment, we will face a cost, a consequence,
perhaps a lost business deal or a better job;
maybe embarrassment, or ridicule,
if we stand up for the Catholic Faith.
And the thing is, it’s not just once, but over and over.
Either we learn the habit of cheerfully paying the price;
or we learn the habit of shrinking back, again and again.
And the only solid ground, the only thing that is secure, is Jesus Christ.
Forty Hours and this Mass, right now, are a good time
to ask yourself what you believe, and what price you will pay for it.
And further: ask Him, ask Jesus, to strengthen you.
Hear him say to you what he said to Peter: “Be not afraid!”
One day all this world will melt away, and either there we be nothing;
Or there will be Jesus Christ.