SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Say Good-bye to Discouragement and Sadness
The disbelief and uncertainty evidenced by those who saw him testify to an apparent strangeness in the appearance of the newly risen Christ. Slowly they came to recognize him, but they still struggled with doubt. We are accustomed to an annual celebration of Easter.
However, for the first disciples of Jesus, resurrection was totally new. Let us remember, that the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus' daughter, and Lazarus were all brought back to life by Jesus, but not one of them continued their lives with a glorified body.
Although the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary, his physical reality is now different than before. The body of the risen Lord is indeed his physical body, but he now moves about with a glorified body. Each of us will have a glorified body also at the resurrection of the dead if we persevere and are faithful.
Over and over again the gospels stress that something extraordinary has occurred. The Lord is tangible, but he has been transformed. His life is different from what it once was. His glorified body transcends the limitations of time and space. For this reason he can pass through the closed door of the Upper Room, and appear and disappear as he desires.
At times his disciples cannot recognize him precisely because their physical reality moves within time and space, and the Lord's physical reality is no longer subject to time and space, although he exists within time and space.
The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive. His crucified body has been transformed. What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?
We can answer this question by turning to our own wounds. Deacon Keith Fournier in his book Wounds that Heal reflects on this theme very beautifully with a rich spirituality characteristic of his writing and preaching.
We can answer this question by turning to our own wounds. What are our wounds?
First, we all experience the large wound caused by Original Sin. Although we are baptized and Original Sin has been cleansed from our soul, our human nature has been wounded. Our sinful condition manifests itself in different ways and we struggle with sensuality and pride.
And then there are the other wounds, the wounds that are smaller. We have wounds that are caused by sickness and the wounds that are caused by problems, adversities, challenges and the disappointments of life.
All of us are wounded.
Even Jesus is wounded.
By retaining the wounds of his passion, the glorified Jesus is showing us that we can find hope and strength by taking our wounds and uniting them to his wounds.
His five wounds are an eternal reminder that when our wounds are united to his wounds we will find true peace.
Many times we are surprised and even discouraged that our commitment to follow the Risen Lord consists in a continual personal struggle with our predominant faults. We become dismayed when manifestations of our predominant faults constantly show themselves in our daily activities.
As Deacon Fournier points on in this book, the perfection that Jesus calls us to in his Sermon on the Mount, does not mean that we will be without struggles and without personal sin. A better translation of the Greek "telios" is complete rather than the word perfection. Thus, the text would read, "Be complete as your heavenly Father is complete."
"Complete Christians persevere in trials and count them as pure joy because they believe that God desires for them only what is best. Complete Christians are not controlled by the past. They view the future with hope. Complete Christians realize that God is engaged with a total reorganization of their behavior patterns, responses, values, lifestyles, and self-perceptions-all because God is faithful in granting their desire to become like Christ and all in his good time. Even though these Christians experience continual change, they view their progress without a sense of failure or arrival. They are concerned more with fidelity than some self-imposed goal. After all, our sense of timing and the Lord's are often, literally, light years away" (Wounds that Heal, Keith A. Fournier, pp. 101-102).
Most of us have been profoundly affected by dysfunctional families, a dysfunctional society, and even a dysfunctional Church. Perhaps some of our predominant faults have been caused by these dysfunctions or minimally they provide the ammunition that pushes our buttons, especially when we deal with anger issues and discouragement.
However, when we honestly acknowledge our weaknesses and sinful tendencies, and take responsibility for all of our actions, our struggles can be the very agents that cause us to receive the graces that we need to overcome our weaknesses and sins.
Our wounds become the source by which personal transformation takes place.
Did you ever stop to think what your glorified body will look like? The only glorified body that we know is the glorified body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. His glorified body still carries the five wounds of Calvary.
Perhaps our glorified body will bear our own personal wounds. Maybe the wounds caused by the death of a loved one, a family tragedy, a life-long struggle with sin, or a long battle with a chronic illness will be seen as personal trophies because they have been the very agents that caused us to gain eternal salvation.
"Maybe when the last trumpet sounds, millions upon millions of glorified bodies will come forth from their tombs adorned with glorified wounds - wounds that, when joined with the five wounds of the Son of God, are seen as the very agents that made possible their owner's earthly transformation. Whatever our predominant faults or buttons may be, some of them may be then worn with gratitude because they broke us of the greatest impediment to contentment, false pride" (Wounds that Heal, p. 102).
So, my dear friends, leave aside your sadness and discouragement. The Lord has truly risen and our Risen Lord still retains the five wounds that gained us our salvation.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily. Apps for Father James' homilies are now available for Android and iPhone.
Click here to purchase a copy of Deacon Keith Fournier's book Wounds that Heal.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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