It is easy to be cynical in this poor life of labor. The one who works hard to plant and to build may lose it all and languish. The one who lazes about and does nothing may prosper like a king.
And in the end, for both alike, there is death and decay. Expensive caskets and whitewashed tombs do not give life or raise the dead, but worms and dust reclaim both rich and poor, the lazy and industrious, the young as well as the old, whether they burn out or fade away.
Your infant may die in your womb; your toddler may be cut down and buried in the bud of life; and your elderly neighbor may die in loneliness, bitterness, or fear.
The cheerful and optimistic die, too.
But can anything good come out of death?
Come and see, and follow the One who has died, and yet who lives. For He has purposed to find you, He seeks you out and calls you to Himself. Follow Him.
Before you have called upon Him, He has answered the deepest prayer and longing of your heart. While you are yet asking your cynical questions, He is already moving to act: to save you.
He has seen you from before the foundation of the world, and while you were yet in the loins of your father, and even in your mother's womb, He has known you in love. For you are His own workmanship, crafted by His hand for life; created not for calamity, but fearfully and wonderfully made in His Image and after His likeness.
So has He come for you now, the Seed of the Woman, of Abraham, Isaac and Israel; the branch and stem from the root and stump of Jesse; the new bud that has blossomed from that fair flower, the daughter of David.
And such a King He is, this great Good Shepherd of Israel!
He has come in humility to humble death. He has become the little boy to slay the giant Goliath with that fierce enemy's own terrible sword.
And now with His Word of the Cross, He lays His head upon your stony heart and calms your fears. He quiets your suspicious mind. He meets your doubts with forgiveness you have hardly dared to hope or ask for, removing even those sins of which you have not been aware, along with those that have haunted you like ghosts and hunted you like wolves.
For by His Cross He has entered death's domain, and He has shattered all its caskets and tombs. That is why His Resurrection from the dead is your Absolution — for His glorious Body, crucified and risen, is the very Gospel of peace, the greatest good thing that has come out of death into life.
Heaven has therefore been opened to you, although you were conceived and born in sin, and though your flesh is subject to death and decay.
Heaven has been opened to you, and it shall never be closed again.
Indeed, heaven has come to you and is opened to you here, where the Body of Jesus is found. Truly, the Lord is in this place. This is the House of God. This is the gate of heaven.
You hear it and receive it now with your ears, according to the Scriptures, and it is placed into your mouth and into your body, although it is yet hidden from your sight under the humility of bread and wine.
Even so, in the resurrection of your body — out of death into life — with your own eyes, you shall see Him in glory, as He is. Then shall you see, what is true already now, that where the Body and Blood of Jesus are, there the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven are gathered; and you are gathered with them.
Come and see, that though you die, yet shall you live.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Edward T. Oakes, S.J.: An Appreciation
11 hours ago