1Cor 15:12-20; Ps17:1,6-8,15; Lk 8:1-3
Not until his glory appears, not until the Last Day will our joy be full. Until that day we hide in the shadow of his wings; there we are safe. Injustice abounds and still we survive. Where sin abounds and injustice thrives, there grace and mercy even more abound. Our outcry is constant; our just suit is always before the LORD. We plead before His Throne of Mercy and rely upon his faithful mercies each day of life. The LORD attends to our outcry; The LORD harkens to our prayer from lips without deceit. The longer we pray with authenticity; the more honest our prayer becomes. Each prayer unfolds completely only when we repent, we give thanks, we make petitions and we contemplate his glory, adore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our growth in prayer is the first response the LORD makes to our prayer. He gives good things to those who ask him; he gives us the Holy Spirit whenever we ask, seek, or knock. To receive the Holy Spirit is to receive the very self-donation of God. Whatever else we want or need when we call upon the LORD; he responds, inclines his ear, hears our words. The LORD understands our prayer better than we understand our prayer. He hears the human heart and knows that our deepest desire is for Him and Him alone. The LORD shows his wondrous mercies. Indeed, he is the savior of those who flee from their foes to refuge at his right hand. The LORD hides us in the shadow of his wings, and when we emerge from hiding we behold his face. On waking to the new day of justice, we shall be content in his presence. All who have fallen asleep in Christ will share in the glory of his resurrection; this is the great good news of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians and to every generation of believers. The Lord Jesus himself traveled from one town and village to another proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, this Kingdom has come into our midst and we glimpse it in the mystery of the Church, the Spotless Bride of Christ.
From the earliest days of the Apostolic preaching, there have been various incredulous responses. At Athens, in the Areopagus, Saint Paul was rejected because he mentioned the resurrection of the Christ. This was unthinkable for a people who had no respect for the material world, who had somehow transcended the material to live in the spiritual. The body was not worth resurrecting. This kind of dualism is confronted by a gospel that proclaims the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Saint Paul takes apart the argument popular in Corinth in our first reading. As he explains, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ did not rise. If Christ did not rise, he is not who he claimed to be, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Indeed, our faith is vanity and we are still stuck in the deadly pit of sin and vice. There is no escape. There is no way out. We are paralyzed sinners, and there is no hope. Indeed, we are false witnesses, and we have led others into deception. Not only are we quite the wretch; we have brought many others into this pool of despair. However, it’s not enough to hope for things to change in our world and in our lifetime. If the mystery of Christ is just some myth to offer us hope in a world that is ultimately hopeless, then we are the most pitiable people of all. However, Christ has been raised from the dead, and Saint Paul has heard his voice and seen his blinding glory on the road to Damascus. It is his gospel that the resurrection of Christ is the first-fruits of all who die. Indeed, all who die with Christ in baptism will rise with him in glory on the last day. This life-changing event has given us the hope we need to live in love for God and for neighbor, to change this dismal and self-centered world in which we live and move and have our being.
Before the Saint Paul and all the other Apostles began proclaiming the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus himself journeyed from one town and village to another, and as he did so, he proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God already here and yet to come in fullness. His preaching was powerful and his ministry was full of miracles and signs. Many accompanied him, the Twelve, women who had been cured, Mary Magdalene from whom seven demons had been expelled, the wife of Herod’s steward, and Susanna. Many men and women supported his journey and ministry out of their resources. The Lord Jesus had some support during his public ministry, and those who had enjoyed his fellowship continued that ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit after he had been taken up into heaven. The Lord Jesus, in his being lifted up on the cross, in the resurrection, at the ascension, at the right hand of the Father, became the good news worth preaching boldly and even to witnessing by the pouring out of blood in martyrdom. Indeed, Saint Paul and many early witnesses did give themselves completely trusting that the same Lord Jesus would return for them and lift them up to glory with him at the right hand of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.