Death and Life, Darkness and Light
(A Homily on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
For the past 15 months, the world has seen millions of deaths caused by a deadly tiny virus. In many cases during this pandemic, victims' bodies were immediately buried or cremated without the usual final goodbyes and religious rites -- a sad situation for the dead and their loved ones.
Since Man's creation, people die after a period of life on this earth, much of it with sickness and suffering. Death and suffering are a reality that we find hard to accept but have to contend with anyway. Everybody dies, and we have no control over when and how it will happen for each of us.
However, in God's original plan, He did not intend for Man, for us, to die. Today's First Reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us that God formed Man to be imperishable, meaning, not subject to death, for He made us in the image of His divine nature, which is eternal. Man was meant to live and enjoy life with God in Paradise forever.
But death entered the world through the devil's envy and Adam and Eve's sin. As a result, all their descendants were bound to die after a period of life on earth. Human beings are called "poor banished children of Eve. . . in this valley of tears."
But in God's infinite love and mercy, He wanted Man, the best of His creation, to have another chance at eternal life with Him.
For this, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that through His death and resurrection, we would regain eternal life. Christ, by dying, conquered death. But we still have to die because death is the passage to eternal life.
However, the devil is still present to tempt us in this life, like what he did to our first parents. He envies us like he envied our parents and wants to thwart God's new plan for us. If we sin, we are repeating the disobedience of Adam and Eve once again.
So we still need to fight the devil. Scripture warns us, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
In the Gospel reading for today, two persons had to deal with the effects of sickness and death. A father wanted his sick 12-year-old daughter healed. A woman was suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. Both of them approached Jesus. Both expressed their faith in His healing power. The woman got healed, while the daughter of Jairus, who had died before Jesus arrived, was raised by Jesus back to life.
The raising of the daughter of Jairus reminds us of our own rising from the dead and being brought, body and soul, to eternal life in heaven. There God will be with us, where there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more of the travails of life resulting from our first parents giving in to the lies and empty promises of the devil.
These two stories call us to realize the human situation and to put our complete faith and trust in Jesus and not on anybody or anything else.
Nowadays, we are living in a culture of death. It looks like the devil has even tightened its evil grip on human beings. Without probably realizing it, many people have become his agents, have become direct instruments of death, or promoters of death, especially of the unborn and the elderly. There are over one million babies aborted each year in the United States. On the other hand, deaths from the coronavirus total a little over 600,000 since the start of the pandemic.
Many of the promoters of the culture of death are in positions of power and wealth. Wittingly or unwittingly, they take it upon themselves to lead the rebellion against the commandment of God not to kill (the sixth commandment). Our first reading is clear on this: "God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome." (Wisdom 1:13-14)
It is worth repeating and keeping in mind: "by the envy of the devil, death entered the world. "In our life, we are free to choose -- God or the devil. Our first parents made the wrong choice. Look what happened. Humanity, each of us, must not make the same horrible choice, the same horrible mistake, again.
In a short while, we will have the opportunity to receive Our Lord Jesus again. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of life.
Our Catholic Faith teaches us that we are receiving His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion. Before we do so, we must examine ourselves to see if we have any unconfessed mortal sin that would make it a sacrilegious communion. If so, we should first go to confession and receive sacramental absolution to put us back in the state of grace.
St. Paul warns: "Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying." (I Cor. 11:27-30)
Let us endeavor to receive the Lord's Body and Blood worthily. And let us ask the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the New Eve, to pray for us to her Divine Son to help us as we live in this valley of tears and after this our exile show us the Blessed Fruit of her womb, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. #