Monday, November 12, 2012

Death, Suffering, and Knowing Who You Have Believed

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is Heaven in Person; His Resurrection is the guarantee that the sufferings of this life are not in vain, if they are joined to His sufferings. The entire purpose of this life is to be joined to and grow in the Divine Life of Jesus Christ; when you are caught up in Him, His Resurrection is your Heaven, nothing more and nothing less than to be in the communion of love that is His Body, with Him and with everyone else in that Body eternally. This is Heaven; it's as sure as His Resurrection. As St. Paul said:
"That I may KNOW Him, and the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed unto His death, if by any means I might attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Heaven is as certain as Christ Himself, and we have hundreds of thousands of martyrs including St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Steven, St. Andrew, and all the righteous dead, that we would either have to conclude that their witness is a lie and their deaths were in vain, or that their testimony is true and that He is alive and risen. Let us trust the Church and all her members when they proclaim in the Spirit that Christ is alive and that there is not a single dead man that will not rise again.

"Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

“O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?”

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept. To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen."- St. John Chrysostom

Nobody can understand death apart from Christ, who has transfigured it and made it life-giving through His Resurrection. Every time you look at a Crucifix, think of the fact that even the worst pain and suffering in this life has been caught up into the Resurrection, and by Christ joining Himself to us and us responding in the Eucharist and dwelling in His Spirit, He will cause this life full of troubles, sorrows, and pain to be transfigured and life-giving through our own resurrection to eternal life. We can only be joined to His Resurrection in the Church, so let us cling to our Mother and participate in the Sacramental life in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit, for Christ is risen, and has become the firstfruits of those who slept.

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He [Jesus Christ our Lord] is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."- 2nd Timothy 1:12

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