Heavenly Hope

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/06/23 at 1:00 AM
  • In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul speaks eloquently today of the hope we should bear for Heaven. Life here on earth is full of suffering, but as St. Paul tells us, our earthly sufferings “are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
  • Our hope in Heaven must be firm, because our God is a merciful God. He is a God who saves, and His greatest desire is that all of us be saved and enjoy the eternal benefits of Heaven.
  • For this reason our blessed Lord has given us innumerable aids in this life to help us along the path of salvation.
  • In particular, our Lord has given us His one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which safeguards the Truth revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is the Word‐Made‐Flesh. The Church not only safeguards the Gospel message, but She also spreads it throughout the world.
  • Truly, the spread of the Gospel throughout the world is one of our Lord’s – and the Church’s – greatest triumphs.
  • From the beginning of Her history 2000 years ago, Holy Mother Church has followed in the path of our Lord’s suffering and death. Just as our Lord was unjustly persecuted, suffered the cruelties of crucifixion, and eventually died, so too has Holy Mother Church been subjected to the evils and inhumanity of wicked men.
  • We see this most especially in the lives of the Church’s saints and martyrs.
  • From the moment the Church was born in the Upper Room at Pentecost, men havepersecuted Her and tried to destroy Her. Persecution after persecution, especially in the first 3 centuries of our history, has spilled the blood of countless saintly souls who preferred to die rather than renounce our Faith or offend God.
  • This continent of Africa proudly boasts a large number of martyrs, both in the early centuries of the Church’s history as well as in modern times – as we see here in Uganda with St. Charles Lwanga and his companions.
  • But even though the first persecutions eventually ceased and the Catholic Faith became the state religion of the Roman Empire and spread throughout the world, Holy Mother Church has never relaxed in Her efforts of spreading the Gospel.
  • She does this in imitation of our dear Lord, Who never ceases to communicate His grace and truth to us. This communication of our Lord’s grace and truth is the primary theme of our readings today.
  • The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Word of God comes down from Heaven like rain that waters the earth, making it fertile and fruitful. And His Word is powerful, capable of producing great wonders.
  • For indeed, the Word of God that comes down from Heaven is no ordinary word like we speak to one another in order to communicate a message. The Word of God communicates God Himself – His grace and His truth – for the Word of God is the Word‐ Made‐Flesh!
  • In our Gospel today Jesus tells us the familiar parable of the sower and the seed, which gives us a powerful lesson about God’s Word. Namely, this parable makes it clear that

although our Lord is constantly sowing His Word among us, the effect that it has

depends on the disposition of the recipient.

  • Jesus explains this parable to His disciples: “The seed sown on the path is the one whohears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes andsteals away what was sown in his heart.”
  • “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy.But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecutioncomes because of the word, he immediately falls away.”
  • “The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxietyand the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.”
  • “But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, whoindeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
  • You see, my dear brothers and sisters, while it is true that Jesus comes to all of us freely,while He communicates His grace to all people and does not impose or force Himself on anyone, He desires that His Word take root within our souls and bear the beautiful fruits of virtue and holiness.
  • Our souls are like hidden gardens in which our Lord desires to plant Himself. But gardens must be tended. They require a great deal of effort in order to produce a harvest.
  • The rocks and weeds of sin and vice must be dug out and removed, and the soil itself must undergo the painful process of being hoed and broken open so that it may be properly prepared to receive the Seed.
  • It is for this reason that our Lord allows suffering of various forms to enter into our lives. When we endure suffering with equanimity and patience, offering our sufferings in union with our Lord’s suffering on the cross, our souls are made into that rich soil that can receive the Seed of God’s Word so that it can germinate and produce rich fruit.
  • In today’s parable, the people who are like the path, the rocky or the thorny ground, are those who have refused the cross of Christ or who have allowed their personal sufferings to harden their hearts rather than soften them.
  • Obviously we are to strive to be the rich soil through the patient endurance of our trials and sufferings so that when we hear the Word of God it may bear fruit abundantly within our souls.
  • But it is not simply God’s Word to which we must be open. We must be open to God’s grace as well.
  • Most parishes are filled with people who have heard the Gospel and believe in it. But how many people truly cooperate with the grace our Lord gives to us so that we can grow in holiness?
  • At every moment of every day our Lord is giving us all the graces we need to become holy. Yet how few truly holy people there are in the world! Our sinful human nature often tends toward sloth and mediocrity.
  • Yet if we wish to attain that level of holiness that will prepare us for Heaven, we must have zeal!
  • Our Lord tells us today that blessed are our eyes because they see, and our ears because they hear. As Roman Catholics we are blessed because we enjoy the fullness of faith that is only found in our Lord’s one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.
  • But what good is it to see and hear the mysteries of our Faith if we fail to act on them?
  • And so we must be zealous in trying to root out all the sins in our life while alsoworking diligently to acquire virtue so that we may more and more come to resembleour Lord.
  • We must be diligent as well in our prayer and be as perfect as we can be in fulfilling thedemands of our vocation in life.
  • Moreover, we must continually stoke the fire of love for God we have in our souls,seeking to please Him and fulfill His will, even in the smallest details of life.
  • This is how we prepare our souls, my brothers and sisters, so that they become that richsoil that bears fruit in abundance. This is how we prepare our souls for Heaven.
  • Let us pray today that we may always have the zeal necessary to tend well the gardensof our souls so that they may indeed become that rich soil that bears fruit in abundance!



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