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Second Class – The Parting. “Thus part we rich in sorrow, parting poor”, Abraham Solomon, 1855
Transcription of Homily
Translation of the Epistle for the Third Sunday after Easter:
Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul, Having your conversation good among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by the good works which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle but also to the forward. For this is thankworthy before God, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. John:
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “A little while, and now you shall not see Me: and again a little while, and you shall see Me: because I go to the Father.” Then some of his disciples said one to another: “What is this that he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me: and again a little while, and you shall see me, and, Because I go to the Father?” They said therefore: “What is this that he saith, A little while? We know not what he speaketh.”
And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask him. And he said to them: “Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: A little while, and you shall not see Me; and again a little while, and you shall see Me? Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow: but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice. And your joy no man shall take from you.”
The saving words of the Gospel
I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims.
In the name of the Father, and Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.
The Church has given us several Sundays to enter into some of the essential aspects of the mystery of our Faith: Primarily, baptism and Eucharist right after Easter. And then, as we hit the halfway mark, the Gospels are leading us towards preparation for the Ascension, preparation for this absence of the sacred humanity of Christ, which is going to bring about a sort of a grief for the Disciples who were accustomed to having Him with them. And this is a grief.
This is a sorrow that does not end in death, but rather, and we have to be careful too, that how we deal with our own sorrows, our own grief, and our own joys as well. Where are they placed? True sorrow, the Beatitude of “the blessed are those who mourn”, this is not a sorrow on the level of a pity party. It’s not feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s not being depressed or anxious. It’s not a sorrow, as St. Paul would say, a sorrow that is brought upon by this world. This mourning, that our Lord is speaking about, is precisely this longing for Him, this missing Him, but also seeing these things in the world around us.
And we think about all of these agents of the demon Moloch who would disrupt the Holy Sacrifice in favor of their child sacrifice. This ought to cause us a certain grief not because it affects us, not because I feel badly, but because it grieves the Lord’s heart deeply and, therefore, we go to Him to make acts of reparation. We go to Him to reaffirm our loyalty, our love, our adherence to Him, and, thereby, that sorrow is turned to joy because we’re not allowing it to sow seeds in our own heart, but we’re going to the Sacred Heart to bring Him something that He doesn’t have, which is our own loyalty. Something we have to constantly, it has a very short shelf life, we have to constantly renew it; our adherence to Him.
You know, we mentioned last week that the virtue of religion, on the feast of St. Joseph, the virtue of religion is not something that is limited to what happens in the sanctuary, in the pews. The virtue of religion is true worship in all of our thoughts, words and deeds. Otherwise, it’s schizophrenic to think that I can be one way in Mass and another way at home; when I’m alone or at a party. If I’m not the same person, there’s a problem there. And it’s also a call.
It’s a call to be reintegrated. Reintegrated into a true follower of Christ who is not satisfied with the petty things this world offers us. And a good test for us is how do I confront grief over a loved one? How do I confront things that go wrong? Financial disasters? Do they make me want to find solace in created things; binge-watching and eating or whatever it may be? Where do I go? Do I go to Gethsemane to accompany Christ? Do I pray to Him? Do I entrust myself to Him? Or, do I seek a certain satisfaction in creatures, which will certainly lead to the sorrow of this world, which leads to an everlasting frustration?
On the other hand, the irony of this mourning with Christ is it gives birth to joy, true joy, which comes from the possession of Christ. Imagine the Angels and the Blessed Souls; they possess our Lord as much as they’re going to possess Him. They behold the Blessed Trinity without a veil. They are perfectly fulfilled, each one according to the degree of charity and their soul. So Heaven is not equal. Heaven is not flat. Okay, Heaven is not flat. The degree of joy in Heaven will depend on how well each one of us fulfilled God’s will in this world and the degree of charity at the moment of the divorce of body and soul. The degree of charity in my soul at the moment of my death is the degree of charity I will have for eternity. And there’s going to be no opportunity for merit after that.
And so, where do I find my joy? Is it in Him? Is my sorrow because He is offended? If that’s the case, I’m on a good path. And I ought to experience an emptiness in this life, an emptiness of whatever this world promises. And usually, as we progress in the spiritual life, those things that used to be hobbies, those things that used to really interest us, they become rather irksome. They seem to get in the way. Not because I’m getting depressed, not because one is becoming a misanthropic curmudgeon, but because Christ starts to claim more and more of our hearts the more we get to know Him, the deeper we go into our relationship with Him.
He is a jealous lover. He doesn’t want to be number one on a list of loves. He wants to be the only love and then, as a consequence, all the other loves, in a pure way, are subsumed by that. So how do we exercise this healthy mourning and this adhesion to Him? We have Adoration here at certain times of the month. Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Greenfield has Perpetual Adoration. And we all know what it is to go into Adoration and to wish it could never end. But we have to go on with our lives and do what we have to do and we leave. It doesn’t have to end. though.
We can have, if we want, a Perpetual Adoration of the heart in which we are cultivating the awareness that we are under the loving gaze of the Father. The Blessed Trinity lives in our souls through grace and we direct our loving gaze towards Him. You can do this in your showering, when you’re eating, when you’re conversing with others, when you’re watching a movie, when you’re driving. Being aware that you are in God’s loving presence and gazing back at Him with a simple act of love of the heart and mind. This is not quietism. This is what’s expected of a true lover.
When you’re in love with someone you’re always thinking about that someone. And there’s no conflict in cultivating this Perpetual Adoration of the heart while we’re doing all of the other things we need to do throughout the day. That will also relativize many of the things that have a perhaps a hold on our heart, a sort of a disordered attachment, that will purify it and put it in its proper place. And so we’re not Manachieans in saying that material things are evil, but rather they are relative and we have to relativize them; put them in their proper place so they don’t occupy a part in our heart that is disproportionate.
And so the Church gives us these readings to prepare us for this goodbye of Christ which we know is also a promise. And it’s a promise that He fulfills because He is the Truth.
In the name of the Father, the Son the Holy Ghost. Amen.