Ordinary Time, 32nd Sunday (C) November is a month dedicated to praying for the dead. Where does praying for the dead come from? Above our world is another dimension or plane of existence, what ancient people called the Spirit World. It is separate from the physical dimension but interacts with us. Modern people have gotten so focused on the physical world that they have lost almost all sense of this other dimension. Ask any group of people, though, and at least half of them can report a spiritual experience, something not explainable only by physical interactions. If does not take faith to believe that at death, people transition from this plane of existence to the spiritual plane. It's simply the most reasonable hypothesis for the available evidence.
It does, however, take faith to believe in the Resurrection of the dead. Where does this belief come from? Jews believed if they were faithful, God would bless them. But they were faithful unto death (see 2 Maccabees 7) and did not see the promised rewards. It must be coming, then, in a kind of second life. They offered sacrifices so the dead who had not been faithful would be forgiven and join in the resurrection (2 Maccabees 12:32-45).
Jesus tells us that he himself is the resurrection, and that he will personally raise the dead (John 5:24-29). He then rose from the dead as proof of his power and to show us our plan for the future. If we have died with Christ, we will also rise with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). That means if we want to experience Easter, we have to join Jesus on Good Friday. We are probably not going to be crucified so how can we die with Christ? Here are three ideas:
- Embrace your crosses. When we realize what a huge blessing our crosses were, we will wish we had even more of them, and that we had born our crosses with more joy and gratitude.
- Offer sacrifices. Every Catholic is required to offer some sacrifice on Friday, either giving up meat or alcohol or some other sacrifice. We should fast on Friday and feast on Sunday. Willingly suffer for Jesus, who suffered for you.
- Die every night and rise in the morning. Before bed, repent of your sins, make an Act of Contrition, and put your life into God's hands. If he gives you another day, rise to new life in Christ.
These are three simple ways to embrace the Paschal mystery every day and every week. If you want to share in the Resurrection, you must also share in the Cross.
(6 Nov 2022)
Going Deeper: Read the scripture references quoted above and reflect on what they mean to your every day life. Have you had any "spiritual experiences?" Share in the comments. Poll a group of people about their experiences with the spiritual realm.
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