Friday, September 22, 2006

24th Friday in Ordinary Time (II)
On Earth as in Heaven

Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Psalm 17:1bcd, 6-7, 8b and 15; Luke 8:1-3

We’ve probably heard Marx’s description of religion as the opiate of the masses. For Marx, religion serves only to numb the pain caused by unjust suffering in this world by encouraging people to place their hope in ultimate consolation and relief in the world to come. Endure now so that you may enjoy later. Religion thus has no worldly significance except as an anesthetic.

Our readings give a different impression. Although in the first reading Paul emphasizes the other-worldly significance of Christ’s resurrection, he doesn’t limit its scope to the end of time. Consider carefully what he says: If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people. To say that belief in the resurrection of Christ gives hope for the world to come is very different from saying that it has no significance for us in this life.

The gospel illustrates the point more concretely. Consider the experience of the female followers of Jesus. Just as a stone cast into a pool causes ripples to spread across its whole surface, so too does their encounter with Jesus impact the whole of their lives in the here and now. Not only do they experience healing and liberation from evil spirits, but they also respond by providing for the material needs of Jesus and the disciples out of their own resources. Thus do they share, in a very real and tangible way, in the liberating mission of Christ. Clearly hope in Christ is meant to impact our lives in the here and now. Is this not expressed also in the Our Father, when we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven?

What impact does hope in the resurrection have on our lives? How are we called to participate in Christ’s mission in the ordinary events and responsibilities of our daily lives?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Fr Chris. Hope in the resurrection is at once comforting and discomforting. It opens the eyes and the heart to the often unspoken sufferings and needs of the people we meet every day - especially of those we do not so readily take to. It also gives us com-passion and, consequently, the desire and will to do in our ordinary daily lives - as Mother Theresa did - "small things with great love".