lundi, mai 25, 2009

Quid hoc ad aeternitatem?

Sermon for the Ascension of Our Lord

We celebrate today the glorious Ascension of Our Lord after having contemplated Him in the mystery of His Resurrection. What is the point of the Ascension? We answer with the Doctors that it is the crowning of the work of Redemption of Our Lord, the achievement of his exaltation that He has merited by His Passion and His entire life on earth since the day of the Incarnation. Saint Thomas explains that heaven was due to Christ because of His nature. It is natural that a being returns to the place from where he has its origin. And Our Lord told us from where He came. We heard that in last Sunday’s Gospel: I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father. There is no more reason for Him to remain in the world since the work of Redemption has been performed.
And also, Our Lord shows us that His kingdom is not of this world and that our lives are just passing and transitional in this world. We are called to join Him: Where I am, there also shall my servants be.
Our Lord is the One who has revealed the mystery of the Holy Trinity; this mystery of love between the Divine Person. He tells us the secrets of His Father. He helps us to keep our attention toward the invisible realities of the Kingdom of grace. Our conversation is in heaven, Saint Paul says beautifully. There, there is someone who speaks now to His Father after He has spoken to us about His Father.
Communication has been established, Paul Claudel says. Now there is at the Father’s right hand a voice to explain this new acquisition and extension of His Son, this Passover that He so longed to take with us, this sin that was somehow unspeakably translated into love, this enriched declension of His Word, this bridal bouquet that sacrifices to Him its sweetness! A voice, and I could also say an ear: a divine ear within us pressed to our heart, a divine ear within us pressed to the heart of God!
You see, if you would spend more time about being more curious about God, more time of meditation about Our Lord Jesus Christ and more time for a true conversation – and not only prayers that can be so easily become a kind of routine – you would understand better the love of God for us. And this would make you happier. It would give you more peace. It would help you to understand that the troubles of this life are nothing in comparison with the glory of heaven. Quid hoc ad aeternitatem? Saint Bernard used to repeat constantly. What does this matter for eternity?
In fact, what does matter for my eternity is not the event that I face in my life, but how do I handle them. Do I accept everything with gratitude and do I always complain about others or about the burden that is on my shoulders. I was thinking a few days ago about the great number of prayer requests for friends or relative who are sick. Often we pray for the healing of someone, and there is nothing wrong about that, provided of course that the usual dispositions required when we pray are here. It is good to pray for each other. But I also realized how rare it is to receive prayer requests of thanksgiving when someone is sick. Of course, such a request should come from the sick person himself. I think I have seen that just once since I was ordained.
Quid hoc ad aeternitatem? How often do we ask for temporal good! How rarely do we ask for spiritual good! It is like if we have to spend our all eternity in this world. How often do we ask to be poor with Christ? How often do we pray to desire insults with Christ loaded with them or to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ? (Cf Spiritual exercises by Saint Ignatius) We are men of little faith. Very little!
We should desire what is the best for us in order to gain heaven. The fact is that might be better for us to be sick rather than healthy, or poor rather than wealthy, depending on how we use the temporal good. It is legitimate to pray for temporal good, but let us be sure that we will use them for the glory of God and our salvation when we ask for them.
Like Saint Paul, we should be able to say that our conversation is in heaven. Christ is there now. May Our Blessed Mother help us to understand this truth and encourage us to take the glorious way of the Cross! It is the only way that leads to the glory of heaven.

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