A CHRISTIAN LIVES IN JOYFUL HOPE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 14th Week of the Year, July 06, 2015
Gen. 28:10-22, Ps. 90, Matt. 9:18-26
Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.
"When the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose" (Matt. 9:25).
This is the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus. Jesus has power to raise the dead. He has power over death. He is our Savior from death, the vanquisher of death. His own death on the cross was the death of our death. It vanquished it, robbed it of its power. In Christ "‘death is swallowed up in victory.' ‘O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:54-57).
The sting of death is removed by the death of Christ. Death's sting is sin. Because of sin we die, for death is the punishment for sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23; 5:12). So because of our sins, we fear death because we fear their punishment. We fear what God will do to us after our death because of our former sins.
But Christ came to take our punishment for our sins, namely our death, upon himself on the cross to put an end to that punishment by suffering it for us, instead of us, thereby expiating our sins, making full reparation for them. If we put our faith in him, our sins are expiated and full reparation is made for them by his death on the cross, and this reparation is credited to us because of our faith in him. Hence his death, through our faith, removes the sting of death for us. The sting of death is the just punishment that will come to us for our sins when we die. That punishment is death's victory over us. It is death's sting.
But Christ in his death, through our faith, turns the tables on death. Because of his death, "death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:54). Because of Christ we are victorious over death. The punishment for our sins was already suffered for us on the cross, so death no longer has any sting for us. Our sins that give death its sting are expiated for us by Christ's death, which made reparation for them.
Furthermore, it is the law that gives sin its power. But, because of Christ's death, we are not under the law for our justification. No one has always perfectly fulfilled all of God's moral law, yet because of Christ's death, we can still be justified--made perfectly righteous before God--by our faith in him; so because of faith, we no longer have to fear the law and its condemnation of us for our sins.
Christ fulfilled the requirement of the law for us. The law required that we die for our sins. He took our place and died for our sins instead of us, thus fulfilling the law for us (Rom. 8:3-4). So, because of our faith, the law no longer condemns us. If the law does not condemn us, our former sins lose their power against us, and therefore death has no more sting for us. Our death is transformed into a passage into the fullness of life.
What we now need to do is to grow in holiness, letting the new man (Eph. 4:22-24), the new creation that Christ has made us (2 Cor. 5:17), seep ever more into us. We do this by taking the narrow way, the way of renunciation of the pleasures of the world, in order to love God with all our heart, with an undivided heart, for worldly pleasures divide our heart. Those who live a worldly life are not on the narrow way of life that is hard, but are on the wide and easy way of destruction. Many take the wide way. Few take the narrow way.
So once justified by faith, we no longer worry about our former sins. Reparation for them has already been fully made for us by Christ. Our concern now is to take the narrow way of life and in this way become ever more sanctified. If we die before we become fully transformed in Christ, God will give us a chance to grow more even after death if we still need it. So we should live a life of joyful faith and hope for eternal life, following the hard and narrow way of life of the few, and avoiding the wide and easy way of the many, which is the way of destruction.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matt. 7:13-14).
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