What the future really means Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Feb. 03, 2011 -- 1:00 AM
Under the Gospel Book by Bishop Robert C. Morlino
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

It is wonderful to be back in Wisconsin, though I am very grateful to have had a bit of time for vacation — where the weather was a bit different from our weather here and now. Nevertheless, it is good to be home!

I’d like to bring up here a very interesting phrase that has come to the fore in recent weeks in our national life.

I don’t mean, in any way, to talk about the source of the phrase, but rather to consider the phrase itself, especially in the light of this past weekend’s readings. The phrase, “we will win the future,” has been repeated so many times that it’s made its way very firmly into my mind, and I think we can use it to consider a few truths of faith and of reason.

From one point of view, on the face of it, the phrase, “we will win the future,” sounds inspiring.

What does it mean?

It means that we have a plan to maintain our standing in the world as absolutely the best, and that plan will win out, by our willing it to be so — we will win the future.

To say it in this way presumes that as we go about carrying out our plan, no one else is going to do anything much but stand aside — and clearly this is not reality.

Obstacles to carrying out a plan

All kinds of things can happen in the world that are obstacles to carrying out a plan. There are all kinds of people and nations with their own freedoms who through intent or accident will stand in the way of our carrying out a plan to “win the future.”

From a personal point of view, and speaking of vacations, I can remember many times planning, and planning well, for a vacation, and when the time came, situations or needs arose such that I had to cancel. Other people were doing other things — not intentionally to stop my plans from being carried out, but they were living out their own lives — and the way in which they were living out their lives had the effect of changing my plans.

Will “we win the future” ?

Yes, we can have a plan, so long as nobody is standing in our way, but we don’t know that it will happen as such. So, in one sense we cannot say definitively, “we will win the future.”

Jesus Christ has won the future

Indeed, in reality no one can ever, “win the future,” such that it really counts, except for the One who has won the future once and for all, and that is Jesus Christ.

In His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ definitively and finally won the future. It is done! The only one who could, “win the future,” did it. To say that “we will win the future,” at best, is forgetful of how big the future is (our future is heaven), and it is forgetful of the One who already won it, at the cost of His precious body and blood, and Who through His resurrection triumphed and won the future.

And so we should say, we will indeed, “win the future,” but not because of any plan that we have, but because Jesus Christ has already won it and, through our Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, and the other Sacraments, has pulled us into His victorious plan, through His Church.

So, on the one hand we can’t really seriously say that we are going to do what Christ has already done, but in recognizing that Christ has made us a part of His plan, we can say with confidence that we are guaranteed to share His having won the future.

If our minds focus on the time expanse of what “the future” really means, on the expanse of heaven itself, we can’t possibly “win the future,” and we can be okay with that, because Christ has won it and has chosen to bind us together as His body the Church, so that we are guaranteed to share in that victory.

Let us never give in to lessening or narrowing the expanse of the future. The future, of itself, opens out to eternity.

Consider the Gospel from this past week, “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . Blessed are the meek . . . Blessed are those who mourn . . . Blessed are those who are persecuted . . . Blessed are you when people revile you and speak all manner of evil against you for my sake . . . Blessed are you.”

The poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted, and reviled — does that sound like those who “win the future”? In the eyes of this world, they look like losers, period. The group that Jesus describes in the Gospel do not sound like winners of the future from the point of view of this world —they sound like losers.

The truth of God in our lives, however, is that though we might look like losers to the world around us, we still get their attention, and that we show them, by Christ’s victory shining through us, that we are the true winners of the future.

Only Christ can win the future; Christ has won the future, and in so far as Christ has transformed us into Himself, the work of winning the future is over, and the work that remains is for us to live as Christ would have us live in accord with the Beatitudes, even when we look like losers in this world. That’s not easy. But, no cross, no resurrection.

In the resurrection there are finally winners in the big picture and, thanks be to God, in Christ, that’s you and I! Let’s go into the world today and every day and live with the joy in our hearts of those who, with Christ, because of His grace, are the ones who have already won the future!

Thank you for reading this. God bless each one of you. Praised be Jesus Christ!