Monday, April 07, 2014

“Don’t ever get so sad that you lose sight of the Resurrection"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was known to say, “don’t ever get so sad that you lose sight of the Resurrection”.  We had a sad week last week at GW, one of the saddest ever in the history of this university.  Two students died: Lynley, a senior, and Ben, a freshman.  On behalf of GW Catholics at the Newman Center, I offer deep condolences and sympathies to those who knew them.  I ask you to pray for them.  I posted a prayer on the blog site, GW Catholic Q & A, that would be good to recite regularly for them: “Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them”.  Pray that God will grant mercy to them.  Pray that they asked for mercy.  God, who exists outside of time and space, can take our prayers now and apply them to the moments leading up to their deaths…and move them to ask for mercy, or express sorrow or repentance.  Pray that they were ready to meet God.

Father Sirianni is the GW hospital chaplain who lives here at St Stephen’s.  In the short window between the time Ben, who was Catholic, entered the hospital and died, Father anointed him which is huge; basically, he saved him.  He brought him the Grace of Christ and forgiveness of sins at death. “Anointing of the Sick” used to be called “Last Rites”.  In emergencies or when someone is gravely ill or approaching death, call a priest to anoint the person.  I don’t care if it’s the middle of the night; call us!  We are ready for the call….to save a soul and send them home to God.

This Gospel story of Lazarus being raised from the dead could not be more timely for us.  If we believe that Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, then we believe that He can raise Lynley and Ben, too.  Lazarus was dead for four days.  The Lord even waited a couple more days to perform the miracle just so that everyone knew that he was dead.  But, he also says that this “will not end in death”.  We believe that the events of last week will not end in death.  It ends in life.  It ends in resurrection.

We are men and women of the resurrection.  Lazarus’ resurrection points to Christ’s resurrection.  One of the main reasons we don’t ever get so sad that we lose sight of the resurrection is that it’s opens the gates to Heaven!  Before Christ rose from the dead, no one went to Heaven.  Without it, there is no hope of eternal life.  It opened the door for us to live forever.  What hope and joy that brings!  Also, if God can conquer death, He can conquer anything in my life.  There is nothing that makes me sad that He can’t conquer.  If He can raise Lazarus from the dead, He can raise me up from my sadness or win victory over whatever it is that is making me sad. In general, the resurrection brings such hope and joy that we should be people who show this…people should see our joy because of the resurrection. In fact, many people become Catholic because of the joy of Catholics…that comes from believing in and living the resurrection.  I honestly don’t know how people get through life and death without faith, especially in the resurrection.

Last week, over twenty of Ben’s friends came to the Newman Center to Mass on Wednesday night to pray for their buddy.  It was quite a sight to see.  It was right after Mass that they learned he died, so they asked me to lead them in a short prayer service.  Then, some of them came back to Newman later that night to pray individually.  Yes, in times of need, come to God, come to Newman, come to me.  It was such an inspiring thing to see that many college students coming together to pray.  It struck me that they believe.  They believe in the risen Christ and came to be in His presence; the Eucharist is the Risen Body and Blood of Christ.  They came to pray to Him and just be in His presence.  There is faith on this campus in the risen Christ!  Maybe it’s not practiced as regularly as it should be, but it’s there.  Seeing that was seeing one of the good things God is bringing out of these tragedies.

Finally, I have said this many times since I’ve been here, but not as much this year.  You are good and you are loved.  I beg you, I beg you to believe these two very important truths deeply in your heart: you are good and you are loved. They will help immensely overall in life but especially when hard times hit, especially loneliness or isolation.  If you are having a really tough time on a given night and are thinking about ending it all, please know you are not alone.  We are here for you.  I am here for you.  I have made a deal with some people who were thinking of ending it all that they had to call me first.  They did, and a few lives have been saved, thanks be to God.  The point is that there is someone with you.  You are not alone.  My cards are in the back of Church.  Call me.  I don’t care if it’s three in the morning.  Call me.  You are not alone.  Believe that, and believe that you are good and you are loved.    


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