Just a Little While

Just a Little While

Third Sunday after Easter

In a little while you will see me again. What is this little while of which Our Blessed Lord speaks in today’s Gospel? It is the brief span of time between His ascension and the end of the world. Span which to us seems long but which in reality is exceedingly short compared to what precedes it and what follows. In a little while, just a little while, we will see Him, and our heart shall rejoice.

This expression captures, I think, the essence of paschal tide. The joy of knowing that our Saviour is risen and in glory and can no longer suffer; the longing to be delivered from the sadness and suffering of this world and see Him in all His glory. It is what makes paschal tide at once sweet and joyful, but also a bit sad. The glory to which we aspire is not here yet for us, though it is for Him, and if we truly love Him that gives us great joy. Many challenges lie ahead for us before we can join Him, which is why the oration of the Mass and the epistle put us on our guard against those things which are incompatible with the glorious name of Christian which we are honoured to bear, in particular the desires of the flesh and the lack of discipline in living with other people. Indeed, the Christian people, far from being dispensed from keeping the commandments are bound by even greater perfection in their personal lives, and far from keeping themselves aloof from the rules and laws of life in society must be model citizens, giving no one cause for just complaint.

This of course assumes that the order of the state is one that is not in contradiction with God’s law. For the most part this was the case until fairly recently, but as you well know for over half a century now most governments in the world have failed egregiously in their most fundamental duty to protect their citizens, by allowing in particular the murder of the innocent unborn and now paving the way to the elimination of the elderly and handicapped. Furthermore, as you are also aware, they have more recently profaned the very institutions of marriage by putting it on a par with unnatural relationships. At the moment they are very busy making even speaking out against these outrages an offence.

All this means that if we want to live a Christian life in our world, we cannot do so without  two attitudes that at first sight seem contradictory. The first is that we must live in this world as not being of this world. As St Paul says to the Corinthians: The time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away. (1 Cor 7:29-31). It is imperative that we distance ourselves from the ways of the world which in former times would have entailed just moving out to the country, but today also involves turning off the television and putting filters on the internet, and sometimes throwing out your smartphone and replacing it with a dumb phone. It is not admissible for a disciple of Christ to soil himself with the filth of the world.

The second attitude makes it obligatory for us to change the world from the inside, to not go along with its vices and injustice, to stand up for the weak and needy, for those whose lives are unjustly endangered and whose virtue is put to the test. Such an attitude inevitably leads to a clash with the barbarians who rule over us. We readily admit that it is a tedious affair, but it is not just about us, but about souls around the world now and in the future. It is because of her mission to save souls that the Church has always jealously guarded her independence and right to speak out. St Anselm whose feast we celebrate today was one of those figures in Church history who had the courage to stand up to secular rulers who were arrogating to themselves rights that belong to the Church alone. One of the antiphons of his feast tells how he proclaimed to the princes of his day: “God loves nothing more on earth than the liberty of His Church”. Why is that? Because the Church cannot exercise her mission without that freedom, and without her mission, no one would be saved. And this is why saintly bishops and priests went readily to prison and death rather than relinquish the sacrosanct right to teach what is right and to condemn what is wrong.

Condemn what is wrong, ah, that is it, that is what is lacking in the Church today and that is why the global powers are so happy with the present leadership in the Church. No one is condemned, everyone is nice. But God is not mocked, and as happened many times in the Old Testament and in the history of the Church, if peoples and if representatives of the Church will not convert from their evil ways, God will take up the rod of punishment. He alone knows when that will happen, but it will come unless we convert en masse from our evil ways. Since there clearly is still a bit of time, even if it is only this beautiful day which God has given us in His immense mercy as a truce, let us make good use of it and take our little part in the mission of the Church, the salvation of souls through their union with God by means of repentance, as Our Lord made clear to the apostles on the very first Easter Sunday: So it was written and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: and that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. (Lk 24:46-48).

Let us be witnesses in our own lives to the reality of repentance, and let us reach out to others, calling them to turn away from evil to the living God before it is too late. Yes, the mercy of God is infinite in itself, but it is limited in time; in particular it is limited to our openness to receive it. May we be not deaf to the word that the Lord is calling out to us each day: Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.