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Having Hope

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/02 at 12:00 AM
  • When someone whom we love dies, we often console ourselves with thoughts of their salvation and the joys we hope they are experiencing in Heaven.
  • Knowing of our Lord’s mercy – which is beyond all understanding – and trusting in the promise of salvation for those who love Him, consoling ourselves in this way is only natural. And, in a Christian context, it can be an act of faith.
  • One of the greatest consolations of hoping in someone’s eternal salvation is knowing by faith that the veil of death separating heaven and earth is not completely impenetrable. Indeed, at times that veil can seem very thin indeed.
  • Many of us, no doubt, have had experiences of feeling the presence of deceased loved ones at certain moments in life. Even though we know they are dead and gone, even though we cannot see them, we just know that they are with us.
  • Sometimes we just know that they’re looking out for us.
  • Thus it is that we rejoice in our faith that the souls in Heaven, whom we call the ChurchTriumphant, are like a great cloud of witnesses who pray and intercede for us – mostespecially that one day, we too will join them.
  • In fact, so confident was she in her own salvation and so sure in our Catholic beliefsabout the intercessory power of the souls in Heaven, St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote in herautobiography that she would spend her eternity in Heaven doing good on earth!
  • The Little Flower said that she would rain down roses from Heaven! And our piousbelief is that when one prays to St. Thérèse and she intercedes with our Lord to answerour prayer, she sends us roses as a confirmation.
  • As someone who has been praying novenas to St. Thérèse for over 20 years, I can attestto having received dozens of roses from her in a variety of ways, along with the answersto my prayers. She’s truly a most generous and consoling saint.
  • And today, as we celebrate our Lord’s entry into Heaven 40 days after His resurrection,we should find even more consolation – for as our Lord, Jesus is infinitely closer to usthan even the saints.
  • Perhaps it seems ironic that the Lord and the souls in Heaven are closer to us in Heaventhan they were on earth, and yet that’s the promise our Lord makes to us in the Gospelof St. Matthew as He ascends into Heaven.
  • Whereas St. Mark’s account of the Ascension stresses the marvelous gifts that will begiven to those who believe Him, i.e., the ability to cast out devils, to speak new languages, to handle serpents, to drink poison, and to heal the sick, St. Matthew simply records our Lord saying that He will be with us always, until the end of the age.
  • What a marvelous thought: our Lord is always with us! For those of us who are baptized, our Lord is not only with us, He is within us – living within our very souls.
  • As if it were not enough for God to become man – and an infant at that! As if it were not enough for Him to suffer and die unjustly for us. As if it were not enough to give us His body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion, our Lord chooses to dwell supernaturally within the souls of all the baptized who remain in a state of grace!
  • My fellow Christians, do you understand what this means? Can you grasp the sheer magnificence of this gift? Can you fathom your own dignity at being the very dwelling place of the Lord – a Temple of the Holy Spirit?
  • Just as Jesus did not leave the Father when He came to earth and took on our human flesh, neither does He leave us as He ascends to the Father! In fact, our bonds with Him are made even stronger.
  • And His presence with us is not merely a natural presence, as God is naturally present in the earth, the skies, the seas, and in all of this beautiful world that He has created.
  • When we speak of God’s omnipresence, we recognize that God is present in all of His creatures, and His natural presence in His creatures is what sustains them in being and makes them what they are.
  • But our Lord’s indwelling within the souls of those in sanctifying grace is a supernatural presence, that is, beyond the natural. This divine indwelling is a special gift to those who love God and enjoy His friendship by obeying His Word.
  • What the saints teach us is that this divine indwelling is a special intimacy with God, an intimacy that enables us to know God as He truly is, just as only a man knows his wife as she truly is.
  • And in this knowledge, we are given the capacity to love Him as He desires to be loved.
  • Thus, the divine indwelling is the greatest of God’s gifts to man, for from thissupernatural gift springs our capacity to cooperate with God’s saving grace! If we havethe gift of sanctifying grace at the moment of our death, we will be saved!
  • Yet notice that I said “if.” In other words, this great gift of our Lord’s indwelling can belost. Indeed, it is lost if we commit a mortal sin, and can only be regained through thegrace of a good confession.
  • Thus, those of us who are baptized and have received this great gift of God’s indwellingare charged with tremendous responsibility.
  • Firstly, we must strive to keep our souls clean from all sin. For while only mortal sincan rob us of the divine indwelling, even venial sin weakens our intimacy with our Lordand displeases Him Whom we should love with our whole hearts.
  • Secondly, we must show our gratitude to God for this gift of Himself by striving to adornour souls with all virtue and banish from them all that is not compatible with Hispresence.
  • Lastly, we must be our Lord’s witnesses to the ends of the earth – just as He charged Hisdisciples to be – so that other souls can be brought to Christ and enjoy this sameintimacy with our Lord.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. Sowhile our Lord is no longer physically present on this earth as He was with His disciples, He is still with us – present not only in His Word and sacraments, but in our very souls.
  • Indeed, for those of us who have been baptized and live in His sanctifying grace, He is closer to us than we can possibly imagine!
  • May we never despair of our Lord’s love for us or of His presence in our lives, but may we strive always to live in His sanctifying grace and thereby become worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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