Let us live our Easter faith every day Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

A mother overheard Danny, her five-year-old son, talk with his friend Jeremy whose father recently died. “Where did your dad go when he died?” asked Danny. “Mom said that he went to Heaven,” replied Jeremy.

“What’s Heaven?” asked Danny.

Jeremy answered, “Mom said that Heaven is a place where we go after we die. Everyone will be happy. We’ll see Jesus, his mom, my grandma, grandpa, dad, and others we know who died. I can’t wait to go there!”

“Wow! Wow!’ said Danny, “But how did your dad get to Heaven? His car is still here.”

“I don’t know,” replied Jeremy. “I’ll ask mom. She knows everything!”

In their young ways, the boys struggled to understand the mystery of life after death. Later Jeremy’s mom probably told them more about Heaven.

Death opens door to eternal life

The cornerstone of our faith is Christ’s resurrection. We believe that Christ earned for us the gift of eternal life by his death and resurrection. In First Corinthians 15:14, St. Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”

For those who believe in Christ’s resurrection and live their faith, life is not a dead-end street without an exit as some believe. We Catholics believe that death opens the door to the eternal life that Christ offers to us.

In Romans 6:4-5, it says, “We were buried with Jesus through Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall be united with him in the resurrection.”

Undergoing purification

The Church teaches that those who die in friendship with God, but are not fully perfected, must undergo the purification of Purgatory before they enter Heaven.

In no. 1002 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, ‘‘Christ will raise us up ‘on the last day’, but it is also true that in a certain way we have already risen with Christ. For by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ.”

In Colossians 3:1, it says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.” We do this when we reject sins, which enslave us. This frees us to be more Christ-like where we live, work, worship, or recreate.

Living the corporal works of mercy

Jesus tells us that living the corporal works of mercy has heavenly benefits. In Matthew 25:34-37, it says that the King will say to those on his right, “Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit then kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

The best way to use God’s gift of life to prepare for Heaven is to respond to God’s grace and help our neighbor in need now. Stephen Grellet wrote, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Catching a glimpse of heaven

The Venerable Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli preached that the day of death is a day to be desired, a day of benediction, peace, and happiness, desired ardently by all the saints. On his deathbed, he explained to his Dominican Sister caregivers that he had been on a long painful journey, separated from friends and home. Though dying, he rejoiced because he caught a glimpse of his heavenly home.

When we receive the Eucharist worthily, we receive a pledge of our future glory. In John 6:54, it says “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.” The Eucharist also strengthens us to live a Christ-like life.

When we renew our baptismal promises at Easter, we ask Christ to transform us into his witnesses as he did the apostles. When we faithfully live our Baptism, we hope to enjoy God’s gift of Heaven and a risen glorified body.

In First Corinthians 2:9, it says: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The Resurrection reminds us that if we believe, God will comfort us and help us to live with our losses as Jeremy and his mother did. The Resurrection strengthens us to carry our crosses with stronger faith, deeper committed love, and renewed hope of Heaven.

In this Year of Faith, let us continue to live our Easter faith every day. Amen.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.