“Proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.” So says
St. Paul to the Corinthians this week (1 Corinthians 11:26), in words
we echo in the Mass. I think the world might need us to make that our
There’s a lot of ugliness in the world. And
there’s a way in which all the ugliness is just different forms of
dying: Some are physical, some are relational, some are psychological.
What does God ask of us, and what does the world need from us, in the
face of these different forms of dying? We’re asked, not to put a happy
face on it, but to face every form of dying with a hope and a confidence
rooted in faith.
That would be hard to do if we didn’t know that
every dying contains the possibility of rising. But that’s exactly what
faith teaches us. That faith is reinforced by remembering what Jesus
showed us in His dying and rising; how all of salvation history pointed
in that direction; and that the martyrs lived His dying and rising again
in Church history. Faith, borne up by that remembering, makes it
possible to face every darkness with confidence in the ultimate victory
of Christ. That’s what the world needs from us.
reinforces this, as does Tuesday’s, when Jesus overcomes physical death
by saving the centurion’s slave and raising the widow of Nain’s son.
Thursday’s Gospel reinforces this, when Jesus overcomes spiritual death
by forgiving the sinful woman. Thursday’s feast reinforces it, as we
celebrate the Korean martyrs Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and
companions — who died to this world and rose to eternal life.
the most important key to how we can give this witness to the world,
however, comes in Thursday’s first reading. Drawing near to the end of
First Corinthians, St. Paul is giving a list of all the people to whom
the Lord has appeared: Peter, the Twelve, 500 brothers, James. He
concludes by saying: “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, He
appeared to me.”
Paul speaks with profound humility about himself,
but utter confidence in the risen Christ. That’s what the world needs
from us. So we must ask: How has the Lord appeared to me?
appears to some people in extraordinary visions and to others in quiet
prayer. Some people experience Him first and foremost in service, others
most clearly in fellowship. He appears to us all in the Mass.
experience the Lord in many ways. The key is for each of us to be able
to name those, to be able to say, with St. Paul: “He has appeared to
It’s only when we know that for ourselves — when we can name
our experience of the risen Jesus — that we can offer the world what it
truly needs in the face of darkness. Then we can say, with deepest
conviction: “Yes, there’s dying here — of many different kinds. It’s
real and it’s painful. But I can tell you: The dying isn’t the last
word. I know there’s a resurrection, because Jesus has appeared to me.”