St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

The Secret of Christian Joy                                               -Homily September 20, 2015

 

Today’s readings speak to us about heaven, about hope in eternal life, but they do not speak about an easy life in the world. The Lord delivers the prophet, but if he is delivered it is because he suffers. “I gave my back to those who struck me… [but] I know that I will not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.” (Isaiah 50:5-9) He is not here yet, he is near. There is suffering, but there is hope of salvation: salvation in the future. The psalmist says “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116) but he also speaks about all his past tribulations. James (2:14-18) may help us to remember that life is not easy also because we have to work and do things for our brothers and sisters who suffer. How many people are now trying to find the way to sponsor families of refugees! We will be judged for our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25). Jesus gives us the same message: there is no redemption without cross, there is no salvation without blood (cf. Hebrews 9:12-22). “The Son of man must undergo great suffering.” Whoever wants to become his follower, must take up his cross (cf. Mark 8:27-35). We must suffer for our sins, or for our purification, and there is no way to enter eternal life if not through many tribulations, as St. Paul says (Act 14:22).

 

Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that Christian life is not a happy life, and even the happiest possible life, whatever the mass media or Google may say. The joy of a Christian is the greatest, but its price is also high. What I would like to say today is this: the thought of heaven and the prospective of eternal life can make our sufferings lighter and our life very happy. The secret, I think, is to live one day at a time, always (at every time) with our heart in Heaven.

 

Every person in this world has to suffer, no matter what. The secret of life is to suffer only what we are meant to suffer, our own cross. God does not want us to suffer “like those who have no hope” (1Tes 4:13). When we try to escape our own cross, we find another one worse. Because whoever takes up his or her cross is never alone: Jesus helps us. Jesus did carry the cross alone, but he will never allow us to carry it alone… unless you disobey God and abandon him. In that case, you are by yourself, and the cross becomes unbearable. Do you have a suffering? Pray to God, tell him to deliver you, but do not disobey him. Resist temptations. God will visit you soon.

 

St. Paul says that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18). Heaven is so great and so beautiful that it cannot be described. The best St. Paul could do was to describe it by negations: “No eye has ever seen, no ear ever heard, nor has it entered a human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Co 2:9). The best St. John, the beloved, could say, was also with a negation: “we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1Jn 3:2). We shall be like God! Not because we will be lost in an infinite nothingness (as some people say), but because we will see God as he is… Heaven cannot be described because God cannot be described. If anyone has ever felt that his heart was about to explode for joy, he still is miles away from understanding what Heaven is. And remember that in heaven we will have our bodies too.

 

So, when we suffer, when we are worried for so many things that we have to do, let us remember that this life is not eternal, that this day may be the last. Live every hour as if it were the last. The day of our death will be a day in which we had many things to do. The day of our death is not different from today. It will be a day in which we will be afraid of future days of sufferings. It will be a day in which we will be worried about expiring dates and future commitments. It will be a day, just a regular day, in which we actually have to do only one thing, and suffer only one thing. The one thing to do is what God wants us to do now. The one thing to suffer is our cross for the day. And that is all that matters, that is all we have. If we live the right way now, we can begin now to enjoy the certainty of being one day with God for ever. I think that this is the secret of life, this is the secret of freedom and of Christian joy: God will never give me more than I can stand, God will always give me all that I need for today. Tomorrow, if it comes, will be the same. Hakuna matata! Live one day at a time, with your heart in Heaven. God loves us now, and we will be with him forever. His love endures forever! (cf. Psalm 118).

 

May God give us the wisdom of life, which is to love him above all things. Whoever loves God always does the right thing, and takes care of his neighbour. Whoever loves God is looking forward to seeing him. May God give us the joy that comes from his heart. May God give us the joy that the world cannot give. May his beloved Mother intercede for us.  –Fr. Andrew

 

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Fall Courses at Sacred Heart of Peterborough!

Sacred Heart is once again offering a wide range of university level and certificate courses starting this September.

Two new courses are “Religion, the Environment & Climate Change” offered before Christmas and “Religion and Violence” offered in the New Year. Other topics for both terms include Canadian History, Moral Theology, Old Testament Literature, and the Ethics of Leadership.

As well, the Certificate Program in Religion and Theology continues on the evening of October 1st with “Laudato Si: The Theology of Climate Change.

Please visit www.shofp.ca or phone 705-745-5549 for more information on fees, dates and location.