The World to Come

Friends in the Lord,  
Yesterday was called ‘Laetare Sunday.’ It comes from the Introit in Latin for yesterday’s Mass, ‘Laetare, Jerusalem, et conventum facite.’ ‘Rejoice Jerusalem, and all who love her!’  Yesterday, the Violet vestments of Lent gave way  to a happier Rose color.  We rejoiced a little, because we are half way to Easter. Easter: is our salvation.  

Today we read Isaiah’s words about this beautiful future ahead: ‘Thus says the LORD: I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered, instead, there shall be rejoicing and happiness, for I create Jerusalem to be a joy;  This is a vision of the New Jerusalem,  a promise that we will be resurrected in the New World to come.   The Christian should always have this hope.  

St. Peter says, ‘Be ever ready to answer those who ask the reason for the hope that is in you.’ Our hope is the resurrection, and in a few weeks  we will re-live the first Resurrection, that of Jesus.  

With this in mind, we can perhaps see today, when this man comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his dying child – this man who seems to have no hope in anything beyond this life – well, Christ seems a bit frustrated:  ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.’ As if to say, ‘Death is not the end at all; you should know this, that a new world awaits, in which you will see that child in joy, and anyone who might die.’  

If our child is dying, we would of course wish to ask Jesus to save him. But with a different faith than this man. We would come to the Lord and say,  ‘Lord, I am not afraid of death  and I know that in the New World ahead our families will be reunited;  but if it be your will, grant him more time with us now.’  

And he said to him, ‘You may go; your son will live.’  

St. Alphonsus says[i] that according to the senses,  death brings about fear and worry;  but with the eyes of faith, it can be consoling,  the end of our earthly suffering and labor.  

I knew a woman who felt sad a long time over the death of her young daughter. One day I was at the hospital, and she was there. She said, ‘Father, today is my birthday, and I was just told that I have terminal cancer.’ I said, ‘Then this is news that you will see your daughter.’ Her smile was the best I ever saw.  

St. Ambrose says,  ‘The present life is given to us, not for rest,  but that we may labor, and merit eternal glory in the life to come ‘   

[i] Preparation for Death, Liguori, p. 87. 

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