Dear Fellow Catholics,
Please see below Fr. Trauners sermon from this Sunday:
Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, August 28th, 2016
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
Our Lord resuscitates a young man, the only son of his widowed mother, in today’s Gospel. And in the Epistle St Paul comments: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For what a man sows in the flesh, from the flesh also will reap corruption. But he who sows in the spirit, from the spirit will reap life everlasting.”
It is beyond any reasonable doubt that man – modern man – is mocking God. He is doing so a little bit more every day.
Not only is the true religion which God has revealed to mankind out of sheer bounty, mocked and ridiculed. It is considered to be a totally accidental feature in people’s life, a pleasant distraction for the weakly-minded, or “opium” for the people giving them visions and halos.
Man also ventures to step onto God’s most special prerogative with regards to the human race: The domain of life and death.
Certainly there has always been murder or abortion, as a consequence of human wickedness, alas. But those committing such crimes have always been aware, until lately, that they themselves were forsaking their own right to live by taking the life of another person. For normally they were put to death once their crimes had been discovered and judged. Today there is no death-penalty in a good number of countries. There is also a positive “right” to kill in the legislation of many states, the right to kill those totally innocent and without defense, when it comes to abortion or euthanasia.
The same is true with regards to the abominable practices with regards to the conception of human life. It is in many cases detached from the God-given order, i.e. the lawful marital relations of husband and wife.
Thus mankind is mocking God’s rights, to the same extent as it is apostatizing from the true religion. But “be not deceived, God is not mocked”. Where human justice fails, God’s infinite justice cannot possibly be escaped. Not only will God’s justice infallibly prevail in the personal judgment after the individual’s death; but ordinarily it is also being felt in a tremendous pain of conscience which follows such evil actions or patterns of action. It is terrible to fall into the hands of the living God.
What is true in the domain of physical human life, is infinitely more important still in the spiritual realm of supernatural life, the life of divine grace. For whatever God has done and is doing with regards to his reasonable creatures is solely aiming at their spiritual good, the salvation of souls (and ultimately God’s glorification). Only God, The Living One, can give and take physical life. In this absolute sense it is clear that the miracle of resuscitating a truly dead person can only be operated by God’s power. It is unheard of that there are true miracles of resurrection in false religions. Satan and his helpers – among whom the founders and the adepts of false religions hold a privileged place – can imitate or ape any type of miracles, except: resurrecting the dead and create materia out of nothing.
The devil can still ape these miracles, but only in a very material sense.
It is said that in voodoo-type rites in Africa a banana plant can grow over-night in a temple, and its fruit can be eaten in the morning. This normally takes about 14 months… “Big deal”, we can answer. It is not impossible for the devil to somehow take an existing plant (who would notice in the tropical jungle…), get it there and accelerate its growth in a “miraculous”, i.e. in a somewhat extraordinary way. This is miraculous under a certain aspect: It is not the ordinary manner of things happening. It is praeter-natural, we would say. But it is not miraculous in the sense of a truly supernatural event. It is in the nature of a plant to grow and to bear fruit, so the described “miracle” is not totally above nature, but outside its laws to some extent, under a certain aspect.
There is also a story told in Gabon where a witch-doctor had foretold that he would go himself to his grave without any need to be carried by others. And this truly happened, it seems! But how? After his death the neighboring witch-doctors gathered for his funeral. Then they started to make their incantations focusing on the corpse. The corpse then awkwardly stood up, moved towards the open tomb and dropped into the grave heavily. Rather surprising, isn’t it? Again: “Big deal”, says the theologian. A good try by the devil to impress human minds, but a far cry from anything close to a true resurrection from the dead, of course. Human minds, working with the devil’s power, can achieve certain extraordinary and impressive feats. But these are in no way to be taken for true miracles, as is obvious in this case. In a similar fashion the Pharaoh’s witch-doctors imitated the first three scourges operated by Moses and Aaron in Egypt (cf. Ex 7-8).
The three cases of resurrection from the dead operated by Our Lord and related in the Gospel, are beyond any possible doubt. People were laughing at Christ when he said to them that the little girl he was about to raise from the dead was only sleeping; for they knew she was dead as a brick, but Our Lord was talking from dead as of sleep, just as at the time when Lazarus’ death was announced to him. Thus we also say, at the Memento for the dead in Holy Mass, that those for whom we pray “dormiunt in somno pacis – they sleep in the rest of peace”. Lazarus, whose body was already smelling from decomposition after four days in the tomb, is called forth, so Our Lord is not even touching his body, like at the other two cases of resurrection. Those resuscitated by Our Lord immediately stand up, and he tells the parents of the little girl, the daughter of Jairus, that they should give her something to eat!
All this is aiming, as we have hinted before, to the spiritual life, and particularly to the even greater, but invisible miracle of spiritual resurrection. The justification of a sinner is a greater miracle than the creation of the whole material world. A soul being baptized changes from a state of helplessness and uselessness to a state of being a child of God, put on the same level of an adopted child of God as the true Son of God, “participant of the divine nature” (1Petr).
So let us thank God who has called us from the darkness of death into his admirable light. Let us live up to the divine call to the best of our God-given abilities. Let us practice Faith, Hope, Charity and all the Christian virtues and grow, and bear fruit not only in this life, but fruit which will ever last, in the splendor of the beatific vision.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
If you would like a copy it can be downloaded here: sermon 160828EN