13th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Paraphrasing Aquinas' moral theology: “Sin makes you stupid.” Quite literally – to deliberately violate right reason and God's law results in you becoming less rational and therefore less like God. A corollary to “sin makes you stupid” is “sin can kill you.” Death entered creation through human disobedience. As the Book of Wisdom tell us – we were made to be imperishable. We were made in the image of God's nature. God did not create us to die. He created us to live with Him forever. But death was born from the devil's envy and “they who belong to [the devil's] company experience it.” Not just mortal death but eternal death. Eternal separation from God the Father. Why such a profoundly dreary homily topic on this beautiful July evening? Because, as followers of Christ, we can speak about death – mortal death – as little more than “falling asleep.”
We awake from sleep when we hear our Lord say, “I say to you, arise!”
Paul tells the Corinthians how Christ accomplishes all this waking and rising among his people. He writes, “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” The Son of God – from the richness of his divinity – became poor for us. He willingly took on the poverty of becoming man so that we might put on the richness of divinity. He could've simply restored us to our original imperishability. Instead, he raised us up to perfect union with the Father. While we are all subject to a mortal's death, none of us must remain dead. Like Jairus' daughter, Christ will say to us, “Arise!” and we will join him and the Father, sharing perfectly in the divine nature. That's our end. The means we use to reach this end is freely available to anyone and everyone who will receive it. Paul writes, “As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.” This gracious act. What gracious act? The gracious act of Christ becoming poor as that we might become rich. In other words, the means you need to reach your final end is total surrender to God's will so that His will and your will are indistinguishable from one another. As Christ willed to give himself freely on the cross out of his love for us, so we too must will to give ourselves out of love for one another. There is no greater means to eternal life.
Think of it this way: sin is the refusal or the unwillingness to be like God in all things. You could say, “But Father! I'm not God!” You're right. You aren't God. But you are created in His image and likeness, and you are re-created in the image of the perfect God-Man, Jesus Christ. In the first century of the Church, St. Irenaeus writes, “. . .our Lord Jesus Christ, through His transcendent love, become what we are, [so] that He might bring us to be what He Himself is.”* No only did the Son become us so that we might become Sons, he makes it possible for us to be Sons – heirs – even now, gracing us extravagantly with every gift we need to surrender and love sacrificially. When Christ cries out – “I say to you, Arise!” – he is not merely urging us to rise from death and enter eternal life. He is also commanding us to lift up our broken wills, our torn bodies, and our distracted minds so that we can be revived, restored for the work ahead. Arise, brothers and sisters, this world needs its Christs.
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