Sunday, April 3, 2016

Don't Be Afraid

Divine Mercy Sunday 

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19. The linked text includes the intervening verses. Be sure to read the other readings for added context.

Last Easter season, in the second reading, we read through a series on love (which I didn’t see for what it was until we were almost done). This year the second reading offers a similar catechetical series. This year we address what is heaven like.

The first thing we need to know about the kingdom to come is that it is nothing to be afraid of.

The trouble that afflicts most of us when it comes to looking forward to going to heaven is that thing that stands between us and heaven: death.

Death is a permanent and radical change in our state of being, and also a permanent and radical change in our relationship with Christ.

Right now, our experiences of the presence of God are usually in small doses - in retreats, intense prayer experiences, and in the sacraments. In Heaven, we will be surrounded by the glory of God all. The. Time. And on a certain level, that is intimidating.
  • John falls down as though dead at the feet of the Son of Man in today’s second reading.
  • Isaiah likewise though he was surely dead when the lord first came to him (Is 6:1-8).
  • The disciples who had known Jesus intimately during his Earthly life were frightened when he came among them (see Luke 24:36 and following).

Death is scary - most people would question your sanity if you’re not afraid to die. Even Jesus feared death - he prays for it not to be necessary while he prayed at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus speaks with complete knowledge of the fear of death that is part of our human nature (and his) when he tells us, “Do not be afraid,” when he says, “Peace be with you.”

Since Jesus has died to save us from our sins, death and heaven is nothing to be afraid of, and Christ himself exhorts us to be at peace with his call to us - to build his kingdom on earth, and to join him in the kingdom to come.

When you say the Our Father and ask, “thy kingdom come”, what do we mean? What comes to mind when you pray this petition? Are you adding a “but not yet” in your heart at the end of this petition?

Sometimes that’s me, and the only thing to do about it is to pray. Pray more. Ask God to bring you closer to him, so that when the time comes for you to die, you barely notice - you walk off with him into Heaven as though it was just another Sunday.

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